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Aviation industry 'will not survive' the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, warns final Taskforce report

The Taskforce is made up of industry representatives including Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport.

File image of Dublin Airport.
File image of Dublin Airport.
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Jul 10th 2020, 10:00 PM

THE TASKFORCE FOR Aviation Recovery has submitted a number of recommendations to Government on how the aviation industry can reopen, and warning that it won’t survive into the future if the Government continues to advise against all non-essential travel.

The final Taskforce report, which was submitted to Government this week, includes measures to establish a ‘Green List’ of countries where passengers can travel, a stimulus package to support regional airports such as Shannon and Cork, and a robust contact-tracing regime. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin last week confirmed that the advice to avoid non-essential travel would remain in place until 20 July and that plans to publish a green list would also be delayed until then. 

The Taskforce, which includes representatives from Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport Authority, listed 12 recommendations to support and kickstart the industry post-Covid.

Along with a green list, it recommends having one single information hub for consumers with details of their consumer rights if they decide not to travel, as well as up-to-date public health information. It suggests Department of Foreign Affairs travel app TravelWise as a candidate to support this measure. 

It wants a “well-funded, highly-effective test, track and trace scheme at scale [...] made widely available nationwide and which could turn around results quickly”. 

“Each day and passing week of confusion and stagnation in the Irish aviation sector increases the probability of job losses, long-term loss of connectivity, unbalanced regional development and economic damage,” the report states. 

“Our economy will not survive on the basis of a blanket policy of “essential travel” only.

The report states that “while two highly regarded international carriers are the anchors of the national industry, Ireland also controls over 60% of the entire global leasing market for aircraft”.

It also points to legal concerns for businesses who require their staff to fly internationally for work while the Government’s advice is to avoid non-essential travel.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, who received the report this week, said it “sets out the contribution that aviation makes to the Irish economy and the scale of the financial and operational challenges the sector is facing as a result of Covid-19. 

“As the report acknowledges, there are difficult choices to be made, balancing public health with economic concerns.  Aviation provides a large number of high value jobs, and it generates many more in the wider economy, and especially in the tourism sector. 

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The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) also welcomed the report today but said it had anticipated the easing of foreign travel restrictions when the interim report was published on 22 June. 

“The ITAA passionately supports the promotion of aviation and regional airports to save Ireland’s tourism sector and by extension, its economy,” it said. 

Niall MacCarthy, the managing director at Cork Airport, said he “strongly welcomes” the publication of the report.

“We look forward to engaging with the Department of Transport in its implementation,” MacCarthy said in a statement.

“An appropriate financial support mechanism is now critical to  support the recovery of Irish aviation in tandem with the policy recommendations.”

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