FACTBOX - Ryanair founder Tony Ryan

(Reuters) - Irish entrepreneur Tony Ryan, who founded Europe’s biggest low-cost airline Ryanair, died on Wednesday after suffering from a long illness, his family said.

Here are some facts on Tony Ryan:

* Born in 1936 in County Tipperary, he founded the aircraft leasing firm Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA) in the 1970s and co-founded Ryanair 23 years ago.

* Ryanair operates over 556 routes across 26 countries from 23 bases. Ryanair is the third largest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers.

* Ryan’s family fortune has been estimated at more than one billion euros. He had homes in Monaco and Kildare.

* He held senior management positions with former Irish state carrier Aer Lingus.

* Ryan was a former director of the University of Limerick Foundation and was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Economic Science by the University in 1992.

* Among Mr Ryan’s proteges are Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary and communications and media tycoon Denis O’Brien.