Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has revealed that the Irish low-cost airline’s major plans for Israel in an interview with the Irish Independent. He told the newspaper that, “the scale of the airline’s ambition in Israel extends far beyond operating just a few flights to the country.”

Ryanair has previously indicated it wants to fly to Israel, and it seems the current fighting between Israel and Hamas has not dampened the low-cost carrier’s enthusiasm. O’Leary was more concerned about a lack of support from tourism authorities as the reason for the delay in launching the routes.

He said, “We’re actively talking to the Israeli authorities, but the difficulty is that once you go outside Europe you need to have, in this case, an Israeli air operator’s certificate. But it’s still very much on the front foot for us. But the Israeli authorities have got much more nervous about protecting El-Al from competition because of the recent events.”

O’Leary continued, “What we’re looking to do in Israel is something much bigger. We want to serve markets all over Israel to Russia, central Europe, the UK, Germany and a lot of other markets.” He told the Irish Independent that Ryanair would have a big base in Israel if the plans eventually come to fruition. ___

Photo Credit: Ryanair has its eyes on Israel not only as a destination, but as a hub for international expansion. Pictured, Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary attends a news conference at the Scandic Grand Central hotel in Stockholm August 29, 2013. Bertil Enevag Ericson/Scanpix Sweden / Reuters