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Report to Government recommends lifting quarantine and air travel restrictions by 1 July

A final report from the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery is due on 10 July.

Image: Sam Boal

AN INTERIM REPORT to Government from the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery has recommended that air travel restrictions be lifted by 1 July.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport requested that a final report be delivered by 10 July but an interim report published today has pointed out that “Ireland is now significantly behind other [EU] member states” in approving the easing of air travel restrictions. 

The Government’s official advice, which is regularly cited by both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, is for Irish citizens to avoid all non-essential travel. 

In the Taskforce’s report, however, it recommends the Government should “urgently clarify the process and milestones to be reached to ease the travel restrictions which are currently in place for non-essential air travel. This urgent clarification should then facilitate the easing of travel restrictions, ideally by 1 July 2020″.

It also recommends lifting the requirement for all air travel passengers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Ireland by the 1 July. 

The two-week quarantine rule sparked anger among airlines, including Aer Lingus and Ryanair, which claimed it was unnecessary and effectively unenforceable.

Today, Aer Lingus has called on the Government to immediately implement the recommendation of the Taskforce’s interim report. 

Chief Executive Sean Doyle, said The Covid-19 crisis is having a catastrophic effect on the aviation industry. Ireland’s failure to take steps that other European Member States have already taken has exacerbated the crisis in Irish aviation.

“This is having a negative impact upon jobs within the industry and upon the industry’s ability to recover,” he said. 

“Ireland needs the urgent recommencement of operations in aviation. Air transport will be an early enabler of economic recovery, allowing people, goods and investment to flow back into the economy. This will be critical to the recovery of the Irish economy.”

The tasforce, which includes Doyle, as well as trade unions and airport representatives, made two further recommendations to allow for the easing of restrictions by 1 July. 

It recommended developing and implementing a “Code of Practice for Safe Air Travel which applies the aviation health and safety protocols developed by the European Centre for Disease Control and the European Aviation Safety Agency” along with the extension of the Wage Subsidy Scheme to support jobs in the industry. 

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Aer Lingus chiefs have already moved to cut 500 jobs at the airline following a break down in negotiations with trade union Forsa last week. 

Transport Minister Shane Ross said he welcomed the interim report and that he looks forward to receiving the full report with further recommendations in the weeks to come. 

He added that “there are of course important public health issues to be considered, which the report acknowledges, and I will give the matters my priority attention and ensure that they are considered as a matter of urgency.”

In a statement this afternoon, Dublin Airport Authority also supported the recommendations and echoed similar sentiments to the Aer Lingus chief executive that “aviation will play a major role in helping the Irish economy to begin to recover”.

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