Table: How Ryanair Keeps the Cost Down

SIMPLE FLEET

By flying only Boeing 737s, maintenance costs are kept low. In 1998, the airline ordered 25 737-800s for about $30 million each--$15 million under the list price--from Boeing when it was engaged in a price war with Airbus Industrie.

SECONDARY AIRPORTS

Using airports located outside city centers, many former military airfields, saves time and money. In exchange for bringing in new passengers, Ryanair typically negotiates 15-20-year deals where airport fees on a net basis are little or nothing.

FASTER TURNAROUNDS

Less congestion at secondary airports means planes are up in the air 25 minutes after landing, allowing planes to get two flights more per day per aircraft than national carriers flying out of busy mainstream airports.

HIGH PRODUCTIVITY

Revenue per employee is 40% higher than major airlines. This year, Ryanair will carry 9 million passengers with 1,500 employees, while Aer Lingus will carry 6 million passengers with a staff of 7,000.

ONLINE SALES

Since the launch of Ryanair.com in January, 2000, 65% of all tickets are sold online, with more than 250,000 bookings each week. Today, agents account for 8% of sales, and their commissions have been slashed to 5% from 7.5%.

NO FREEBIES

Not even peanuts. All drinks and inflight snacks are sold on board, turning a cost into a revenue opportunity. And don't ask for ice. O'Leary saves $50,000 a year by cutting out the cubes.

Data: Company reports, BusinessWeek

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