European airline group structures: Ryanair – cloning IAG

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Over the next 12 months, Ryanair plans to move to a group structure "not dissimilar to that of IAG". Under Ryanair Holdings PLC there are now four airlines, each with its own AOC. These are the Ireland-based Ryanair, Poland-based Ryanair Sun, Austria-based Laudamotion and the newly created Ryanair UK.

Under the new structure the four airline subsidiaries will each have its own CEO and management, reporting to a small senior management team led by group CEO Michael O'Leary. Ryanair Sun (to be rebranded as Buzz) and Laudamotion already have their own CEO, but the other two subsidiaries will need to appoint new heads. The holding company will focus on efficient capital allocation, cost reductions, aircraft acquisitions and small scale M&A opportunities.

This report compares Ryanair's proposed structure with that of IAG and also takes a quick look at the other two large airline groups in Europe: Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM.

Ryanair's new group structure is yet to be implemented and no doubt it will evolve. Nevertheless, at first sight, it looks pragmatic and seems unlikely to match IAG in two key areas: competition among subsidiaries for capital investment and the consistent use of different brands for different markets.

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