By Andrew Atkinson

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said people are desperate to return to the beaches of Spain – which he believes could be in the summer.

“People are desperate to get back to the beaches of Spain. By June, July and August families will hopefully return to the beaches,” said O’Leary.

O’Leary, cited the vaccines in place for the coronavirus situation is giving hope, after a woeful aviation year in 2020 and entering 2021.

“You can take comfort of the UK vaccinations given – and I  think Europe is catching up,” said O’Leary.

“I think Europe will throw money at vaccinations to catch up with England,” he added.

Spain had an 80 per cent decrease in visitors in 2020, and airlines have few flight’s operating at present.

“The UK has delivered the most successful vaccine programme and I think bookings will come back, even stronger,” said O’Leary.

“Families will return to fly to Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, we’ll see that this summer,” said O’Leary.

“Easter is a write-off. With summer period bookings superior. When we return fares will be even lower,” said O’Leary.

“People will surge in their millions to go on holiday,” added O’Leary.

O’Leary believes travel restrictions will be dropped, once high risk groups were inoculated. The UK is expected to vaccinate everyone over 50 by the end of March.

“We think once all those high risk groups, the elderly, the NHS, and nursing homes have been vaccinated, then travel restrictions should be removed, particularly on short haul intra European travel,” said O’Leary.

“We expect to see a very strong return of British families travelling to the beaches of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece in relative safety this summer,” he said.

EasyJet reported summer bookings rising by 250%, despite the cost of pre-departure coronavirus tests costing up to £150.

The Covid pandemic has caused the closure of some EU airlines, including Flybe, Germanwings and Level.

Ryanair announced losses of €307m for the three months to December 31, as the number of passengers it carried fell to 8.1 million, from 35.9 million a year earlier.

The loss for the quarter contrasts with an €88m profit after tax in the same period a year before.

Amid COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions across the EU and UK continuing to stifle demand in early 2021, O’Leary said: “As we look beyond the Covid-19 crisis, and vaccinations roll out, the Ryanair Group expects to have a much lower cost base and a strong balance sheet.

“That will enable it to fund lower fares and add lower-cost aircraft to capitalise on the many growth opportunities that will be available in all markets across Europe, especially where competitor airlines have substantially cut capacity or failed.”

Ryanair expects annual losses of up to €1bn (£870m) for the year to March 2021.