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on 26 January 2013
Ryanair is a flying McDonalds. Its purpose is to provide cheap flights to various European destinations. That's it. That's all it is. This is why some of the criticism directed towards Ryanair is a little unfair. They do not market themselves as anything other than a cheap, no-frills airline and their service reflects the price paid. I for one believe that is fair. On the other hand, by all accounts their treatment of employees leaves something to be desired. It's one thing to focus on costs, it's another to treat badly those who give the best part of their time to working for your airline.

In this book, Siobhán Creaton charts the history of Ryanair from its struggling beginnings as an overly-ambitious provincial operation to becoming Europe's leading low-cost carrier. It's an amazing story. The factor that seems to underpin Ryanair's success is a relentless focus on costs. Michael O'Leary, the airline's aggressive CEO and an accountant, developed a singular obsession with cutting costs here, there and everywhere, but it's important to realise that this was not just a narrow financial strategy. In improving the bottom-line by saving money, O'Leary was really signalling a general vision for the airline: Ryanair would become not just a low-cost carrier, but a no-frills airline driving a revolution in the way that people travel internationally, even the way we as a society think about travel. After all, if you can fly with Ryanair from, say, Heathrow to an airport near, say, Rome for a fraction of what it would cost with an airline like BA, then what was once a niche pursuit known as 'international travel' suddenly has the potential to become commonplace, almost like taking a coach or train. Ryanair's point is: this being the case, why should flying be such a fuss? As Michael O'Leary himself once aptly remarked: "Now anyone can afford to fly." Although I sympathise radically with Ryanair's critics, I cannot help but wonder whether they are really understanding this vision. We all resist change at some level, and with good reason: not all advancement is progress. But in the case of Ryanair, I think some critics are missing the big picture.
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on 20 May 2005
The essence of this book is a constant focus on the bottom line of the business supplemented by a large slice of luck. Firstly Ryanair managed to negotiate the lowest airport fees in Europe by buying up capacity at Stansted when the new airports partnering agreements with other airlines fell through. Strategically this set them up for the long term. Since then rigourous monitoring of costs such as only using black & white printers in their corporate headquarters through to only buying second hand aircraft (in the beginning at least) and using the same model of aircraft on all routes equals large savings in maintenance and overhead costs.
Furthermore most non-value added costs such as pension costs, uniform and training costs are passed to the employee rather than being paid by the employer. This is taking to the max the concept of the employee as just another factor of production and by removing the requirements for experience and career development from all roles O'Leary does not care about staff retention, not even as regards to pilots.
All in all there is a lot that any organisation can learn from the management of Ryanair in terms of controlling costs. If, however, you value your staff and need to retain them, and want to attract customers for reasons other than hilariously cheap prices, ignore this book.
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on 11 February 2010
I was looking forward to understanding more about Ryanair and learning about O'Leary but I was left not knowing much more than already is in the public domain. It is incredible repetitive in parts, especially regarding its battle with Aer Rianta etc. It last any interviews from anyone in the firm who has any insider knowledge so in parts it feels as if its been written by piecing together various news stories on the years.
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on 23 October 2004
I have just read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have been fascinated and entertained by Michael O'Leary for many years now. This book was the first to go behind the scenes in Ryanair and showed how he operates with staff and his total ruthlessness and disregard for what people think of him.
It is a great read and the author had obviously done lots of legwork and has uncovered plenty of new information that vividly shows how Ryanair almost collapsed several times but survived and prospered under O'Leary's leadership.
I particularly enjoyed the interview with Herb Kelleher, the Southwest Airlines chief and the guru for all low fares airlines. He was so entertaining and obviously is enthralled by O'Leary.
It's a real page turner and provides lots of lessons for anyone in business trying to develop their company while keeping an eyes on their costs.
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on 21 December 2005
The story of how discount airfares came to Europe is no fairy tale. This book is a disturbing story about the underside of deregulating Ireland's airline industry. It's a tale of temperamental executives, overspeculation, greed, government intervention, mistreated customers and the challenges of free market operations. Given a wealth of material and an exciting industry, author Siobhán Creaton delivers a well-written, engaging corporate tale. The cast includes a combustible mix of powerful personalities who sometimes, but not always, tolerate each other. There is also a revolving door of top executives who serve the company's purposes and leave, as well as horror stories about how cost cutting created festering customer relations. Creaton packs this into an exciting story that moves quickly, though it rambles now and then. We recommend this compelling profile to anyone interested in corporate case studies, executive management or modern aviation.
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on 3 February 2014
The background, the personalities, the strategy, the key ingredients that has made Ryan Air transform aviation in Europe. No doubt being lucky by being in the right place at the right time helps to create success but not on the scale of Ryan Air. The relentless pursuit of simplicity, lower costs has delivered a profitable formula that others were unable to emulate. Siobhan Creaton captures this story in a way that makes it a compelling read for anyone interested in this story. A great read.
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on 7 January 2005
This is a great book that I couldn't put down until I read it entirely!
As a frequent Ryanair customer, saving big money every time I travel, I always tried to imagine how such a great airline could charge so little for airfare and continue to make a profit(or stay in business). As a school project (Economics) I chose to research Ryanair's success story and discovered this book. I even drove 4 hours (round trip) to get a copy! This book answered all of my questions and I am still fascinated with this company!
Regardless of Ryanair CEO, Michael O'Leary's 'colorful' personality and his ability to stir up the media, his tenacious efforts continue to drive the company to the top of the airline industry. Some of his comments, outbursts, and responses that are quoted throughout the book, had me rolling with laughter! The humble beginning Ryanair endured through the 1980's is a very inspiring story of persistence that brought radical changes to the way we travel today.
Not only is this a good read about this company, however anyone interested in overcoming great adversity will be inspired and motivated to never give up on their dreams.
A great book that is worth the money (as well as a 4 hour drive)!
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on 2 November 2013
Excellent account of a very remarkable venture,warts and all, the book tells the history of the airline from humble begins to the outlandish times of Mick OLeary. Highly readable. Having flown with Ryanair I have to say I have had no problems at all,well done Ryanair.
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on 12 September 2004
I bought this book hoping for an insight into what sets Ryanair apart from the other low-cost airlines, and to learn more about its charismatic leader, Michael O'Leary.
Although it was interesting to read of the airline's origins as a loss-making conventional airline under the leadership of Tony Ryan, much of the rest of the book read like a feature-length version of newspaper snippets about the airline.
It was clear that the author has not actually met O'Leary, and most of the comments she attributes to him have been seen before in newspaper articles and television interviews.
Unfortunately the book lacks the sparkle and gentle wit present in Simon Calder's book about low-cost airlines. Overall, rather disappointing.
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on 27 October 2014
This Book is a great read if you want to try and understand Michael O'Leary a bit better, or want to see just how this great Irish Company was set up, and how it has conquered European Air travel. I thoroughly enjoyed this read!
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