Brexit U-turn still possible: Ryanair's O'Leary

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary speaks during a press conference on new flights from Toulouse at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport on September 27, 2016 (AFP Photo/Rémy Gabalda) (AFP)

Blagnac (France) (AFP) - The head of Europe's largest airline said Tuesday he believes the UK could still make a Brexit U-turn once it realised it could not stay in Europe's single market while leaving the EU.

"I would be hopeful they'll change their minds in the next two or three years and chose to remain in the European Union," Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said at France's Toulouse-Blagnac airport.

The head of the low-cost carrier said the UK could still be persuaded "that staying in the single market is the sensible way forward and that they were misled by those people in the exit side who've said that you can vote to leave the European Union and stay in the single market.

"I don't think that's correct and I think once the UK realise that's not going to be correct I think there'll be a change of mind. I hope so," he said.

He predicted the U-turn would happen "when they realise the only way to keep access to the single market is to allow the free movement of people and pay, which would be the Norway solution."

While Norway is not a member of and has no voice within the EU it has access to its single market because it is a member of the European Economic Area, which includes all EU member states, as well as Iceland and Liechtenstein.

O'Leary said if Brexit did go ahead his company would "probably base more of our aircraft on the continent of Europe, in France, in Italy, in Spain, in Germany, and fly back to the UK, but I think that won't be the final outcome."