Ryanair, which is rapidly becoming one of Europe’s most dominant airlines, has been listed among the 40 ‘Most Wired companies re-shaping the world’s economy’ by the influential US magazine Wired.
The Wired 40 listing was led at the top by Google, Nokia, Yahoo!, IBM and eBay, featured Ryanair at number 30 in the world in terms of innovation, technology, global reach, networked communication and strategic vision.
The company’s website ryanair.com, according to Google (itself described in the Wired 40 as the world’s reference desk) is the seventh most demanded website on the internet right now.
According to the listing, originally known as the Wired Index: “Ryanair will revitalise Europe’s sclerotic airline industry.” However, it said, the “budget carrier faces charges that its success is built on safety and accounting short-cuts.”
The listing said of Ryanair: “A financially strapped travel industry is Ryanair’s sweet spot. Founder Tony Ryan and CEO Michael O’Leary have a simple game plan: snap up unwanted routes at second-string airports, slash rates on no-frills flights (round-trip from London to Milan: $15), and sell 90-plus percent of tickets online, wringing profit from car rentals and hotel bookings. The company expects to shuttle 24m passengers this year. That puts Ryanair in the same league as Europe’s top three airlines, and the March acquisition of Danish carrier Buzz cements its position as Europe’s biggest discount carrier. O’Leary’s next target is Eastern Europe. Within five years, he aims to be the continent’s biggest carrier. Period.”
At a conference earlier today organised by Lionbridge Technologies and First Tuesday Group, entitled “World in Motion: generating revenue through the language barrier”, Ryanair’s communications manager John Rowley said that the company still continues to invest very little in its website.
“It is simple but effective tactics like placing prices on the front page and ensuring that our terms and conditions are kept up to date in all the different languages of the European countries that we target that seem to win us the business. It’s not about over-investment in technology. Our prices are updated regularly from a macro on a basic Excel spreadsheet and we get maximum publicity from press releases and our controversial adverts in newspapers,” Rowley explained. “At present, out of our 16m passengers, some 94pc buy their tickets online through our website,” he said.
In its most recent financial results for the year ended March 2003, Ryanair posted a 53pc growth to record pre-tax profits of €265m. The company’s CEO Michael O’Leary is reputed to have a personal wealth of around €500m.
By John Kennedy