Just a few years ago Ryanair was a tiny, impoverished Irish airline trying unsuccessfully to compete with Aer Lingus using a handful of elderly turboprop planes. In 2003 its share price is so high the company is worth more than British Airways, and with the unlikely business model of selling seats for as little as 99p for the privilege of flying to airports perhaps fifty miles outside the cities they purport to serve, Ryanair has become the most profitable airline in Europe. It is also an airline whose phenomenal success has never been too far from controversy, whether it be its militant lack of sympathy for its passengers when their flight is delayed or cancelled, its robust approach to industrial relations, or indeed the industrial language favoured by its charismatic and buccaneering chief executive, Michael O'Leary - and, most recently, the EU ruling that Ryanair's strategy of getting cities like Strasbourg to pay it handsomely for the privilege of landing at their airport contravenes competition law. But the supercharged growth of this low-cost airline has actually changed the way countless people live their lives, whether it be Ireland's new 'Ryanair Generation' for whom its cheap flights to Dublin have eliminated much permanent emigration to the UK, or the thousands of Britons now enabled to buy holiday homes in rural France. This is the first book to tell the full story of the Ryanair phenomenon, from its inauspicious beginnings to its current dominance, from the secret of its business strategy to the cavalier stunts and practices that have led the Guardian to dub it 'Eire O'Flot'. Siobhan Creaton has spoken to Ryanair employees past and present, as well as its top management and those at its major rivals like British Airways and easyJet, to produce an authoritative, objective and compulsive account of one of the most colourful companies in Europe.