While Europe's largest budget airline, Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary does not believe governments should force people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, he said in a recent interview that those refusing the jab are "plainly idiots" and should not be allowed to use transportation services like his.
"We recognize the rights of everybody to decide not to get vaccinated if you so want," O'Leary said in an interview with The Telegraph on Friday. "If you personally object to vaccination, because it's some huge government/Big Pharma conspiracy; apart from the fact that you would be plainly an idiot, we respect your right to be an idiot."
He said those who choose not get vaccinated at this point, "you shouldn't be allowed in the hospital, you shouldn't be allowed to fly, you shouldn't be allowed on the London Underground, and you shouldn't be allowed in the local supermarket or your pharmacy either. You can sit at home, and you know, get your deliveries of medicines and food. But you should not, you know, go to work or go on public transport unless you have a vaccine certificate."
O'Leary, 60, oversees Europe's largest airline company, Ryanair Holdings plc, which offers budget air travel to 225 destinations in 37 countries with a fleet of 450 aircraft, and has ordered 210 more Boeing 737s to increase capacity from 149 million passengers before the pandemic to an estimated 200 million, according to the company.
Besides its own brand, Ryanair, the company also owns Buzz, Lauda, and Malta Air, providing 2,500 daily flights in the region from 80 bases.
The pandemic, however, has hit the company hard, with the number of passengers dropping from 149 million to just 27 million in the last year, making it the "most challenging" in the company's 35-year history, according to the company.
He said he is concerned about future travel with the rise of the new COVID omicron variant, and countries reimposing travel restrictions, leading to "a wave of cancellations" through the holiday season that could linger through the spring, undermining confidence in air travel.
"If there's continuing uncertainty over Christmas on further restrictions or some kind of further restrictions, then January will be weak and the forward bookings in Easter and next summer will be weak – so we just don't know," he told The Telegraph.
He said, while governments would be violating people's civil liberties by imposing vaccines on them, like some countries have, authorities could "make life hard" for the unvaccinated.
"[Forced vaccination] is an infringement of your civil liberties," he said. "But you simply make life so difficult. Or [make it that] there are lots of things that you can't do unless you get vaccinated."
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