Ryanair is an Irish airline which had its inaugural flight in 1985. Today it’s one of Europe’s largest low fares carriers based on the Southwest model. It’s an aggressive, young company with a rather unorthodox management team and it’s always pushing the envelope to develop new strategies and lead the pack in innovative marketing. Ryanair is proud of its tradition of taking on the ‘big boys’—the large, established national carriers—and winning. Last year, the company posted profits of more than 100 million Pounds Sterling, despite September 11th. The airline has a lean approach -- no meals, no assigned seating and it flies into secondary cities which have efficient transport links to Europe’s capitals. Fares can be astonishing with giveaway tickets as low as 1 Pound Sterling plus airport taxes per sector during special offer periods.
I’ve been with Ryanair for almost four years now and it’s been an amazing ride. I initially started on the 737-200 but after only six months I did my conversion course onto Boeing’s new generation aircraft -- the 800. Since Ryanair is expanding so rapidly, most of the aircraft still have that great ‘new car’ smell! Ryanair has 36 737-800’s and 21 737-200’s based in Dublin, Stansted, Shannon (Galway), Prestwick (Glasgow), Charleroi (Brussels), Stockholm Skavsta, and Hahn (Frankfurt), and more opening every 6 months. The expansion never stops. Our new base has just been announced as Bergamo (Milan).
When you fly for Ryanair, you really fly! Usually, I am working the maximum of 100 hours in a 28-day period, so it’s a really terrific airline if you’re building hours. Ryanair pilots work on a set roster pattern of 5 days on, 3 days off -- alternating between sets of early and late reports. Ryanair flies 76 routes in Ireland, the UK and on the continent but we are home in our own beds every night with rare exceptions.
Ryanair runs a tight ship -- our turnarounds are 25 minutes and we have 189 pax on our 800’s, so safety, speed and accuracy are imperative. Ryanair is also great for gaining experience as the company is willing to take low hours pilots and see them through their first big aircraft training. European airspace is some of the busiest in the world -- there’s no better place to practice in a high workload environment.
Upgrades to command come fast at Rynair with three years being about average -- I have recently been upgraded to Captain! Most new captains are required to move to a continental base if they accept the promotion, so that can be a bit disruptive but not unusual in the aviation world.
If you work at Ryanair, you’ll be flying with men and women from over 30 nations. You have to be legally allowed to work in Europe to apply for any position in the company. Validations of foreign licenses were accepted in the past but new JAA (Joint Aviation Authority) regulations are making that increasingly uncommon.
Ryanair is changing the way people view aviation. Making it more accessible to the man in the street and challenging the traditional methods of air transport. It’s exciting and dynamic. The company is always evolving. It’s great to get up and go to work!
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