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Ryanair chief O'Leary warns of fresh capacity cuts at Dublin Airport if travel rules aren't loosened quickly

Michael O’Leary said the government has ‘mismanaged’ air travel.
Sep 17th 2020, 2:29 PM 27,790 34

MICHAEL O’LEARY HAS accused the government of mismanaging air travel during the pandemic.

Speaking after the airline’s AGM in Dublin today, the group chief executive of Ryanair told RTÉ News that further capacity cuts to the airline’s services out of Dublin could be on the cards unless the government open up air travel sooner than planned.

Last week, Ryanair told staff in Cork and Shannon airports that the airline may have to close those bases unless the government eases the rules.

Earlier this week, the government confirmed that it will broadly support the European Commission approach on travel, which is set to come into effect next month. 

It will mean a significantly different approach to the current guidelines on air travel in and out of Ireland. In the meantime, the green list is set to be expanded from next Monday.

On RTÉ today, O’Leary welcomed the move by the government to adopt the EU system on overseas travel but criticised the delay in adopting the new regime.

“Again, they are talking about moving to that on 13 October,” he said.

“The point we have repeatedly made is that NPHET and the Government have mismanaged air travel on and off the island since the first of July.”

“The Germans and Italians have been allowing intra-EU travel without restrictions, without quarantine since the 1st of July.

“Their Covid case rates are under 20. Ireland has been locked up like North Korea. We are the only EU country that has these EU restrictions in place, and yet our Covid case rate in the last 14 days is now north of 50.”

Ryanair has repeatedly hit out at government travel rules rolled out as a result of the pandemic, mainly the guideline requiring people returning from non-green list countries to restrict their movements for 14 days.

The airline is currently challenging those restrictions in the High Court.

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If adopted, the new European Commission rules would mean that anyone coming from designated areas more adversely affected by Covid-19 should either quarantine or undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival to a country. 

That means, if the guidance came in tomorrow, people who live in Ireland would be allowed to travel to or from, for example, Germany and Sweden for any reason (including holidays) without having to restrict their movements on either side.

O’Leary added that transport minister Eamon Ryan should “should move today to immediately adopt the European system.

“Under the European system, 21 of the 27 EU countries would be removed from Ireland’s quarantine list, most notably the UK and Germany, where the Covid case rates are significantly lower than in Ireland.” 

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Ian Curran

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