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flight plan

Irish airports to receive €80 million support package to help them survive pandemic

The cash injection announced today represents an additional €48 million on that which was announced in the Budget last month.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS agreed an €80 million support package for the aviation sector, as Irish airports fight for survival as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The cash injection announced today represents an additional €48 million on that which was announced in the Budget last month.  

The new supports include €22 million in additional funding for Cork and Shannon Airport and an extra €21 million for the Regional Airports Programme, which will benefit Knock, Kerry and Donegal airports. 

The funding package will also include an Airport Charges Rebate Scheme to run from January to March that the Department of Transport says is subject to State Aid approval from the EU Commission.

That scheme benefits all Irish airports, including Dublin Airport, to the tune of €20 million.

The rebate scheme was among the recommendations made by the Task Force for Aviation Recovery. The task force had previously warned that Ireland’s aviation industry ‘will not survive’ the Covid-19 pandemic if travel advice is not changed.

Announcing the additional funding today, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that the government is “fully alert to the devastating impact of the global pandemic” on the aviation industry. 

“It is expected that it may be some time before it is possible to permit a large scale return to air travel, but we remain committed to ensuring that the aviation sector can maintain the necessary core capability to retain strategic connectivity and to quickly rebound when circumstances allow,” he said.

I welcome the fact that the Government today approved this department’s proposal for an additional €48 m funding for the sector,  focusing in particular on Cork and Shannon and our smaller regional airports which are important contributors to the economics of their regions.

Ryanair gave a cautious welcome to the announcement. A spokesperson said:

“Three months of rebates does not go far enough. We urge Minister Ryan to adopt the Aviation Task Force recommendation to fund airport rebates for a period of three years.

Over 325,000 people are employed in the Irish Tourism industry and depend on airlines to deliver customers. If our Aviation and Tourism industries are to have any chance of rebounding to pre-Covid levels, then a structural package of incentives is required over three years – not three months – to support this industry on which so many people depend for their livelihoods.

The EU’s traffic light system for international travel came into effect in Ireland on Sunday.

It is hoped the plan will jump start the aviation sector by waiving the requirement to restrict movements if someone has had a negative Covid-19 test or has arrived from a ‘Green’ country on the list. 

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