SUMMER HOLIDAYS will be back on the cards for Irish people from July, according to Michael O'Leary.
The Ryanair chief says he expects Ireland's restrictions on travelling abroad to be lifted, or at the very least significantly reduced, once the country's Covid-19 vaccination programme is in full swing.
Appearing on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr O'Leary said he thinks things will begin to "pick up" in June, before a resumption of pre-Covid flying abroad in July.
He also called on the EU to "get their act together" and speed up the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
"I expect there to be a dramatic recovery this summer on the back of a successful vaccine rollout programme in the UK," O'Leary said.
"50% of the population will be vaccinated by the end of March.
"Europe and Ireland needs to get its act together and catch up."
The Ryanair CEO, who has been particularly critical of travel restrictions ever since they were imposed in March last year, argued that most young people aren't getting seriously ill from the virus, so once the "over 50s" are vaccinated, younger people can resume travelling as normal.
"If 50% of our population is vaccinated by the end of June, which we now expect, we see a strong recovery of travel [and] summer holidays during the school holidays in July, August and September.
"There aren't lots of young people getting sick and going to hospital. There is an increase in the numbers, but the vast majority of people who are sick from Covid are in the over 65 year age group."
When it was put to Mr O'Leary that it might be September before the majority of Ireland's population was vaccinated, he argued that once the priority groups were vaccinated, then there was no need for travel restrictions anymore.
"If you have everybody over 50 vaccinated, and that should be done by the end of June, then there is no requirement for any restrictions.
"The vast majority of young people don't get sick with Covid. The vast majority of young people are asymptomatic."
He continued: "We fully accept that Easter will be a write off because of the delay in the vaccine programme, but summer '21 will see millions of people travelling to the beaches of Europe in July, August and September when everybody over 50 will have been vaccinated.
"The risk of hospitalisations and deaths will have significantly receded [by then]."