Ryanair boss: 'Most of UK' doesn't understand travel rules and 'hundreds of thousands' are booking anyway

'They're booking, literally in their hundreds of thousands, on a daily basis.'

The head of Ryanair has said "most of the UK population" do not understand the UK's international travel rules and that "hundreds of thousands" of people are booking regardless.

It comes as the government faces criticism for its traffic light system, branded "ridiculous" by the opposition.

Labour has called for "absolute clarity" on whether people should travel to amber list countries, after accusing ministers of causing confusion.

Michael O'Leary, CEO of airline Ryanair, said he didn't understand the rules, neither did the vast majority of the country, and that people were booking for amber countries anyway.

Ryanair has waived its change fee for flights to and from Spain until the end of the year. Credit: PA

He told ITV's Peston show: "I'm happy to say for about the past four weeks, they've been booking in their droves. Mainly, I think they're booking into June, July, August and September.

"People are ignoring the short-term restrictions and working out that they'll be safe to fly when the school holidays come around. And they're booking, literally in their hundreds and thousands, on a daily basis."

Quizzed on whether people were following the guidance on travel to amber countries, the guidance being not to go unless in "some extreme circumstance," Mr O'Leary said "no".

"I don't think people are following it," he said.

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"But to be fair I think the general view - thanks to the success of the vaccination programme not just in the UK but also in Europe - people are working out that these amber zones will be green by the time we get to the end of June.

"I think people are conscious of booking their summer holidays now, with the kids, before the flights become fully booked."

It comes after EU ambassadors agreed to allow non-essential visits into the EU by people who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, but the policy will need to be signed off by ministers of member states.

A separate decision on whether to add the UK and other countries to the EU's "safe list" will be made on Friday.

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The airline boss said people are making their own judgement on international travel, in advance of the guidance being issued on June 14.

The Prime Minister stressed during PMQs earlier on Wednesday: "You should not be going to an amber list country on holiday".

Despite the guidance, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said "150 flights a day are going to amber list countries and travel agents are reporting surges in holiday bookings to those countries."