Exclusive interview: John Hurley, Chief Technology Officer, Ryanair

Ryanair John Hurley (2) John Hurley was appointed Ryanair’s Chief Technology Officer in September 2014 and is responsible for developing and implementing a world-leading digital and technology strategy, heading up a  200-strong team at the Ryanair Labs digital innovation hub at Ryanair’s new Dublin Campus in Swords.

In this interview, we ask John about his plans to develop a world-class digital infrastructure at Ryanair and make the leap from playing catch-up to being the “leaders of the pack”.

 BlueSky: Ryanair recently announced that it plans to bring about a ‘revolution’ in online travel – how do you plan to achieve this?

JH: By rolling out native mobile apps, which take advantage of the phone’s native features to greatly enhance the end user experience. A major update to our new website, with a different take on the booking system, for example less clicks to book a flight. It will be achieved through Ryanair Labs, our hub for digital innovation, developing what is already one of Europe’s biggest travel websites while working on the next innovation in travel.

We’re already the best for low fares, punctuality, operationally, etc – we want to be the best digitally. People booked in their millions on what was a bad website – imagine how many will book when we have the best website.


Aviation Ryanair quote 1

BlueSky: Michael O’Leary famously said that if he had known being “nicer” to customers was going to work so well he would have done it years ago. How are you planning to embed a renewed focus on the passenger experience into your designs at the digital labs?

JH: Through the use of our new apps, improved website, myryanair, great features such as fare finder, our planned flight compare tools, the use of big data, etc. We will be better set up to transform how we deal with customers – we’ll know all about you and be able to tailor our offers to you.

BlueSky: What do you see as your biggest challenges to achieving the vision of a world-class digital infrastructure at Ryanair? How do you plan to overcome them?

JH: The biggest challenge was getting leadership buy in, which we already have. The rest is all about listening to our customers, moving to a more agile development process where we deliver smaller incremental changes more frequently, measuring our customer’s response and reacting to it.

BlueSky: What role will mobile technology and wearables play in your digital strategy?

JH: 40% of our browsing comes from mobile, yet we only launched a mobile version of our site in December. Mobile and wearables are going to be huge and it’s important that we realise this and make mobile the centre of our future strategy.

Aviation Ryanair quote 2We want to be able to offer everything – browse and book your flight, check in, download your boarding pass, upgrade your seat, buy fast track, book your car hire, book a taxi, etc – from the palm of your hand, or from your wrist. The wearables space is still evolving and like mobile will play a huge part in customers travel experience in the future. We were late to the party. We want to be ahead of the pack, rather than playing catch up and we will be.


BlueSky: What do you think the future travel experience will look like in 10 years time? 

JH: In 10 years time Ryanair will be carrying 160m customers annually, with a fleet of 520 aircraft. Many of the airlines operating today will have consolidated. The journey itself will be greatly enhanced by wearables and other devices that have yet to be invented, things like wi-fi, bag tracking, in-flight entertainment will be standard on all airlines and will no longer be a differentiator.


John Hurley is a keynote speaker at the Connected Aviation Summit taking place on 27th-29th April 2015 at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel in London.

To request an invitation to attend, email: julie.coates@terrapinn.com