#53 Declan Ryan, Irelandia: The founding of Ryanair, low-cost airlines, lessons for AAM
The Vertical SpaceNovember 02, 202301:07:1146.17 MB

#53 Declan Ryan, Irelandia: The founding of Ryanair, low-cost airlines, lessons for AAM

Welcome back to The Vertical Space for a discussion with Declan Ryan, one of the co-founders of Ryanair and a serial builder of low-cost airlines. With commercial drone operations starting to gain momentum and the contours of future eVTOL operations becoming better understood, it is important to highlight the evolution of the low-cost airline business model and learn the lessons from this market. And we have just the right guest to take a deep dive into this fascinating topic.

Dec takes us to the early days of Ryanair: how they viewed the market opportunity, how they chose to compete with legacy airlines, the strategic choices and early pivots, the mistakes along the way…and some very funny moments including negotiating an acquisition with British Airways. 

More broadly though, we discuss how low-cost airlines make money in a highly commoditized environment, the revenue opportunities, ways to remove cost from operations, and the role of technology in the relentless pursuit of operational excellence.

Dec has been in the industry for a long time and what you’ll hear from him is a sober, unfiltered view of the challenges and opportunities that the airline industry is facing, both today and in the near future. 

Throughout the conversation, we make references to AAM and ways in which the lessons learned in the low-cost airline business might inform eVTOL operations and drone operations at scale. There are many lessons that the AAM industry should embrace, mistakes it should not repeat, and Dec highlights those backing them up with personal experience starting, running, or being involved in a number of airlines around the world.

We discuss many other topics such as decarbonizing aviation, supersonic air travel, how startups should pitch airline customers, advice to entrepreneurs, and much more. 

04:49 Zero-fare air travel
07:09 What airline customers care about
10:01 Commoditization of air travel and the relentless pursuit of low cost
10:49 The founding of Ryanair
24:09 What made Ryanair successful
28:59 Lessons that AAM should take from Ryanair and other LCC airlines
31:54 Technology adoption by (LCC) airlines
38:11 What about safety?
44:24 What airline executives will be looking for in eVTOLs. Good and bad examples of existing airline leadership
52:57 What airline competencies are transferrable to drone and eVTOL operations
58:07 Advice to entrepreneurs, decarbonizing aviation, supersonic travel


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