Death of Ryanair’s Michael ‘Kell’ Ryan

The death has occurred of Michael Kell Ryan, who worked with his older brother Tony on the relaunch of Ryanair as a 'no frills' budget airline, at his home in England
The death has occurred of Michael Kell Ryan, who worked with his older brother Tony on the relaunch of Ryanair as a ‘no frills’ budget airline, at his home in England

The death has occurred, at his home near Cambridge, of Michael “Kell” Ryan, the younger brother of the late Ryanair founder Tony Ryan, who joined the airline in 1986 after many years with Aer Lingus and shortly before its successful relaunch as a budget carrier.

Kell, who was 73 years of age, was taken ill in Barbados, was transported to his home in England where he died on 30 December.

Mr Ryan, originally from Tipperary had lived and worked in the UK for many years in a career which included being Aer Lingus manager at Heathrow Airport.

His older brother Tony had made his fortune with aircraft leasing company Guinness Peat Aviation and had started Ryanair which although popular had lost tens of millions of pounds.

Kell, who in his later years gave speeches to business audiences on the lessons learned from starting Ryanair, would tell audiences that his brother asked Michael O’Leary to see what could be done with Ryanair and his recommendation had been to “close the effing thing down” but he said his brother did not like being defeated or to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Kelly said It was then that Tony had the idea of copying the South West Airlines no frills, budget airline model established in the US.

Although Kell was often billed as a co-founder of Ryanair – he joined after it started but before it was relaunched as the no frills carrier we all know today – the airline under Michael O’Leary would insist on telling news media he had not been part of the original start-up.

Although Kell worked in several operations and senior management roles including sales and marketing, at Ryanair, until he retired from the airline in 2004, he did not benefit from the original flotation and shares issue.

Since 2004 he had worked in consultancy and public speaking and was active until as recently as last year.

He was also on the board of visitors of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, US.

He is survived by his wife Glenis and two daughters Aislinn and Sinead. Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised.

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