The era of cheap flights is not coming to an end, according to Ryanair group CEO Michael O'Leary.

"For all the talk about taxing air travel and the end of air travel, Irish tourism, industry, and agriculture needs low-cost air travel to and from the European Union," he told RTÉ's Countrywide programme.

"The era of the cheap flight is not coming to an end.

"All of the indications we have is that people are going to continue to travel, particularly on Ryanair as it is low fare and affordable."

Mr O'Leary added: "I don't think if you’re living on an island like Ireland you can change your attitude to aviation, it’s not like we are living in Holland or Belgium - we have no alternatives and we have to fly.

"We live on an island and have a right to travel.

"The whole purpose of the European Union is to enable the free movement of travel, but we need to move to make it more sustainable and less environmentally damaging.

"Our tourism depends on people flying in here, but as an industry we have to be more sustainable."

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He said Ryanair was buying new aircraft that burn 16% less fuel.

Mr O'Leary added: "Whether in aviation or agriculture, we need to look at using more solar panels."

He said people are "getting back to flying at the same levels they were pre-Covid. March was the first time that we carried more passengers, 11.2 million in total, compared to 10.9 million in March 2020 pre-Covid.

"People have been locked up for two years and there's a huge hunger there to travel both for business and leisure.

"We've seen a big surge in family travel to the beaches of Europe for the two weeks of the Easter holidays."

Asked about the recent queues through security at Dublin Airport, Mr O'Leary reiterated his call for the Defence Forces to be brought in to help.

"The army have the most expertise in security, they are the best in Europe at it and I think the European Union would accept that and it would solve the problem."