Low-Cost Carrier Buzz Sold to Ryanair – Airways Magazine


DALLAS – Today in Aviation, British low-cost carrier Buzz (UK) was sold to Ryanair (FR) in 2003. Buzz owner, KLM (KL), announced its intention in January to sell the LCC for US$26m.

Plans for Buzz began in August 1999, at a time when KL’s British subsidiary, KLM UK (UK), was struggling to compete with the growing number of low-cost carriers at its London Stansted (STN) base. 

The Dutch flag carrier would later fold KLM UK into KLM Cityhopper. Meanwhile, Buzz would take over the point-to-point routes from STN. 


Buzz commenced operations on January 4, 2000 with a fleet of four 110-seat Bae 146-300s. Initially, the airline offered flights to Berlin (SXF), Dusseldorf (DUS), Frankfurt (FRA), Milan (MXP), Lyon (LYS), Paris (CDG) and Vienna (VIE).

In its first year of operations, the airline carried 1.3 million passengers.

In November 2002, KLM announced that it intended to develop Buzz into “a market leader”. It announced plans to see its fleet quadrupled, with the 146 phased out in favour of the 737. A new base would open in Bournemouth (BOH) in early 2003, with a European base following soon after. 

However, a strategic review by KLM saw the parent determine that profitability for Buzz as a standalone carrier would be unachievable. 

SP-RZE. RR currently has 12 Boeing 737-8 200, with three on order. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

Buzz Stansted

After the takeover, FR chose to keep Buzz as a wholly-owned subsidiary, calling it Buzz Stansted. FR returned all eight 146s to KL, and 100 staff were laid off. 

But in September 2004, FR announced they were to close Buzz Stansted, and the airline ceased to exist on October 31, 2004. 

In March 2019, FR revealed it would revive the Buzz brand for its Polish-based subsidiary, formally known as Ryanair Sun. On its parents’ behalf, Buzz (RR) now operates several charter services and scheduled flights.

Featured image: The 146s were later joined by Boeing 737-300s, sourced from Deutsche BA (DI) and later Continental (CO). Photo: kitmasterbloke, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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