Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has faced criticism after saying terrorists "will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion".

The 58-year-old told The Times newspaper that families with young children should be waved through airport security because there was "virtually" zero chance of them being bombers.

"Who are the bombers? They are going to be single males travelling on their own," he said.

"If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is zero."

He added: "You can't say stuff, because it's racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago it was the Irish.

"If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat."

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said Mr O'Leary was "encouraging racism".

"If he can tell me what colour Muslims are then I'd be very happy to learn from him - you can't judge a book by its cover," he told the Times.

He added: "In Germany this week a white person killed eight people. Should we profile white people to see if they're being fascists?

"He's being very blinkered and is actually encouraging racism."

Mr O'Leary's remarks come the day after a white female Muslim convert admitted plotting a suicide bomb attack on St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, was born Michelle Ramsden but converted to Islam in 2007, and is believed to have become radicalised in 2015 after following extremists online.

Mr O'Leary also took British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to task over the decision to rescue Flybe, with the 58-year-old questioning why British taxpayers were left to foot the bill for a company owned by three of the industry's richest billionaires.

Flybe is owned by Connect Airways, a consortium made up of Cyrus Capital Partners, Stobart Group and Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic - which itself is half-owned by US giant Delta Airlines.

"If Branson and Delta won't put their hands in their pockets, why should the taxpayer?" Mr O'Leary said.

While he admitted Ryanair was moving to address climate change, including spending £25 billion in the next eight years to update and make its fleet greener, Mr O'Leary believes the airline industry as a whole has been unfairly maligned on environmental issues.

Mr O'Leary pointed to broadcasters always showing vision of planes taking off when they want to illustrate the world heating up, even though "aviation only accounts for two per cent of CO2 emissions".

When asked for his thoughts on another issue of concern to many millennials, gender fluidity, Mr O'Leary said it was only a matter of time until his male air stewards started wearing skirts.

"It's the way of the world," he said.

"We are Europe's largest airline carrying many millions of millennials, so we have to pander to all that nonsense."