Ireland played a leading role in advocating the liberalization of European aviation. It has also been a major beneficiary of the policy. Before liberalization in 1986 on the Dublin–London route, the sole Irish airline, Aer Lingus, had 2.3 m passengers in 1985. Under liberalization four Irish airlines had 130.5 m passengers in 2016. Ryanair carried 117 m passengers, more than any other airline in Europe. It has reduced fares by increasing productivity compared to legacy airlines, using secondary airports, increasing its load factors and the number of seats per aircraft, using a single aircraft type, achieving 25-minute airport turnaround times, replacing most free inflight services by sales and by ending ticket sales through travel agents. Liberalization of the airport market has increased Dublin’s market share in Ireland because of greater competition there, reducing road travel times since the completion of Ireland’s motorway network and ending the compulsion to have a stopover at Shannon.
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