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Ryan International Airlines Shuts Its Doors

Ryan International Airlines, which flew charters on behalf of tour operators, the Department of Defense, and (most intriguingly) the Department of Homeland Security, closed up shop over the weekend, laying off its entire staff. It blamed its financial difficulties on a massive decrease in demand from the Defense Department (ie, the end of military operations in Iraq and the reduction in Afghanistan).

The Rockford, Illinois, carrier has been flying since 1972, and you may have seen its planes in Las Vegas or Cancun when it was flying on behalf of Funjet and Apple Vacations. Or if you are me, you/I would remember them from when I flew them in 1998 when they were flying for tour operator SunTrips between California and Hawaii (we paid $99 each way to fly from LAX to Maui on an extremely cramped DC-10 – though for $99, who was complaining? Oh right, I was complaining).

Airline nerds may remember them from a perhaps ingenious strategy AirTran undertook in 2003 or so when they inaugurated flying between Atlanta and the West Coast. Rather than invest in new aircraft, AirTran leased a few planes from Ryan International to see if they could make the route work financially before putting its own aircraft on the route.

The company went Chapter 11 in March of 2012 and was never able to recover from the significant loss in military charters.

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