The Story Of Ryanair’s 3 Learjets

Ryanair is, of course, well-known for a majority Boeing 737 fleet. However, its 737s and A320s are also joined by three much smaller Learjet aircraft. You won’t get to fly these on routes anytime soon, unfortunately. They are used as jets to transport maintenance crew and parts around the network as needed.

Ryanair, Kiwi.com, Airline Tickets
Ryanair operates a large fleet across Europe – what happens when aircraft need technical assistance? Photo: Getty Images

Ryanair’s three Learjets

Alongside its huge narrowbody fleet, low-cost airline Ryanair also has three private jets. The three aircraft are all Learjet 45 jets from Bombardier. The Learjet 45 is a mid-sized private jet with a typical passenger capacity of nine (plus two crew).

Ryanair added the first aircraft in January 2012. This had already been in service for three years with another operator. It was re-registered in the Isle of Man to leasing company Aviation Leasing (IOM) Ltd. Ryanair likewise does not directly own the other two aircraft. They are also leased via the same company. The three aircraft used today are:

  • M-ABEU. Added in January 2012.
  • M-ABGV. Added in June 2014.
  • M-ABJA. Added in December 2015.

These aircraft usually take a Ryanair callsign but are not painted in Ryanair livery. To distinguish them from Ryanair’s larger jets, they sometimes (but not always) take callsigns of FR1, FR2, and FR3.

Ryanair Learjet
One of Ryanair’s three Learjets, M-ABJA. Photo: Ronnie Macdonald via Flickr

Moving parts and engineers around the network

The Learjets are based at Ryanair maintenance hubs, including London Stansted. They are regularly used to ship parts and engineering crew around the Ryanair network to deal with maintenance and technical issues. They could be used to reposition crew if needed as well.

This is a valuable asset when operating a tightly packed flight schedule at a low-cost. Getting parts out to aircraft quickly is helpful in keeping aircraft operational and minimizing disruption (and associated expense and compensation). The alternative is to use more local bases or commercial flights to move crew and parts around.

The exact economics of how its use of Learjets compares to commercial options is not made public, But the fact that Ryanair has steadily grown its fleet up to three aircraft suggests it works well.

Ryanair maintenance
Ryanair transfers engineers and equipment around its network to assist with aircraft technical issues. Photo: Getty Images

Aircraft in regular use

All three aircraft are well used. According to Radarbox.com, they have made the following number of flights over the past 12 months (to December 30th 2021):

  • M-ANEU has made 632 flights, averaging five flight hours per day.
  • M-ABGV has made 501 flights, averaging 4.2 flight hours per day.
  • M-ABJA has made 550 flights, averaging 4.2 flight hours per day.

As an example of their use, consider the movements of its third aircraft M-ABJA in December 2021. Based on data from Radarbox.com, it has been operated 56 flights just in that month. On December 29th, it ran the following schedule:

  • 00:46 GMT London Stansted to Palma de Mallorca
  • 03:34 Palma de Mallorca to Barcelona
  • 06:58 Barcelona to London Stansted
  • London Stanstead to Glasgow
  • 19:38 Glasgow to Barcelona
  • 23:07 Barcelona to London Stanstead
Ryanair learjet
The Learjets are not painted in Ryanair livery. This is M-ABEU seen at Prestwick airport in 2013. Photo: Jonathan Payne via Wikimedia

We don’t often discuss these non-core parts of airline fleets. Ryanair is not the only airline to operate other aircraft types this way. Feel free to discuss more about these Learjets, or other aircraft, in the comments. 

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