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Ireland stands alone in Europe with travel restrictions, says Aer Lingus chief

Doyle said the pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on the airline industry.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

AER LINGUS CHIEF Sean Doyle has said Ireland stands alone in Europe when it comes to its travel restrictions imposed because of coronavirus.

Doyle said the pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on the airline industry and Ireland has been effectively closed off to business.

The Government published a green list of countries and areas last week that are safe to travel to and from but people are still being told to avoid non-essential travel.

The list excludes mainland UK, the US, and popular holiday destinations for Irish holidaymakers such as Spain.

The 15 approved areas are Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino.

Doyle told the Dail Covid-19 committee that the pandemic has been “catastrophic” for the airline industry.

embedded240675899 Aer Lingus chief executive Sean Doyle Source: PA Images

The chief executive said: “There is not a clear understanding of the scale of the crisis or indeed its significance for the Irish economy and its future recovery.

“Ireland’s travel restrictions are more restrictive than any other country in Europe, and Ireland now stands alone in applying a policy, while the rest of Europe has opened up for travel.

“The criteria being used for Ireland is even more restrictive than what the EU uses for passengers from third countries entering the EU.

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“The green list published last week means Ireland is effectively closed for business and this will have a profoundly negative effect on the Irish economy and for aviation and tourism sector jobs.

I started off by saying the Covid-19 crisis had brought about the greatest crisis of global aviation the industry has ever experienced. The situation in the Irish sector is even worse.

Ryanair chief executive Eddie Wilson said aviation in Ireland supports 40,000 direct jobs and more than 100,000 indirect jobs.

“Tourism overall supports 325,000 jobs, which is more than US multinationals – if we don’t have a functioning industry, all of these jobs are in danger,” he said.

Wilson said Ireland risks being left behind unless travel restrictions are eased.

“We are on the periphery of Europe, and shutting down connectivity will lead to stagnation and massive job losses in Ireland. That is a certainty and we should wake up to it,” he said.

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