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With two routes and two planes, the fledgling airline carried 82,000 passengers in one year.
Ryanair passenger numbers continued to increase, but the airline generally ran at a loss and, by 1991, was in need of restructuring, including the closure of Ryanair Europe/London European.
On 13 February 2006, Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a documentary as part of its Dispatches series, "Ryanair caught napping".
The documentary criticised Ryanair's training policies, security procedures and aircraft hygiene, and highlighted poor staff morale.
Under partial EU deregulation, airlines could begin new international intra-EU services, as long as one of the two governments gave approval (the so-called "double-disapproval" regime).
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.
Ryanair launched a new base of operation in Charleroi Airport in 2001.
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.
Ryanair's route network serves 34 countries in Europe, Africa (Morocco), and the Middle East (Israel and Jordan).
Ryanair has grown from a small airline, flying the short journey from Waterford to London, into Europe's largest carrier.
Ryanair now has over 11,000 people working for the company.
After the rapidly growing airline went public in 1997, the money raised was used to expand the airline into a pan-European carrier.
Revenues have risen from €231 million in 1998 to €1,843 million in 2003 and to €3,013 million in 2010.