In August 2005, the airline claimed to have carried 20% more passengers within Europe than British Airways.
The airline launched its website in 2000, with online booking initially said to be a small and unimportant part of the software supporting the site.
Increasingly the online booking contributed to the aim of cutting flight prices by selling directly to passengers and excluding the costs imposed by travel agents.
The Irish government at the time refused its approval, to protect Aer Lingus, but Britain, under Margaret Thatcher's deregulating Conservative government, approved the service.
With two routes and two planes, the fledgling airline carried 82,000 passengers in one year.
In 1986, the company added a second route – flying Dublin–Luton in direct competition with the Aer Lingus / British Airways duopoly for the first time.
Under partial EU deregulation, airlines could begin new international intra-EU services, as long as at least one of the two governments gave approval (the so-called "double-disapproval" regime).
Later that year, the airline ordered 155 new 737-800 aircraft from Boeing at what was believed to be a substantial discount, to be delivered over eight years from 2002 to 2010.
A loss of €3.3 million in the second quarter of 2004 was the airline's first recorded loss for 15 years but the airline became profitable soon after.
The enlargement of the European Union on opened the way to more new routes for Ryanair.
The rapid addition of new routes and new bases has enabled growth in passenger numbers and made Ryanair among the largest carriers on European routes.
In 1992, the European Union's deregulation of the air industry in Europe gave carriers from one EU country the right to operate scheduled services between other EU states and represented a major opportunity for Ryanair.