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Ryanair says its winter presence in Cork depends on UK being on Europe-wide green list

CEO Eddie Wilson urged the Irish government to adopt the European Commission’s new system of colour coding.

Ryanair has said its operations in Cork and Shannon are at risk.
Ryanair has said its operations in Cork and Shannon are at risk.
Image: PA Images

RYANAIR HAS SAID it would be able to keep its Cork Airport operation open this winter if the government relaxed travel restrictions into the country.

The airline’s CEO Eddie Wilson said today that Ireland “missed the boat” by not joining an EU-wide approach to travel and that the government should rectify this by adopting the same rules that exist elsewhere in Europe. 

Reopening international travel will form a key part of the ‘Living with Covid’ plan the Irish government is set to announce tomorrow. The plan is likely to see Ireland opting into the European Commission’s new system of colour-coded countries and regions.

That proposal would see zones classified as green, amber or red based and travellers returning from green countries would not have to quarantine. 

“The European Commission are likely to have a new set of rules this week and the government needs to adopt those in full and adopt those green lists. We’ll see the vast majority of Europe and the UK return to flying and the abolition of the 14-day quarantine,” Wilson told RTÉ’s News at One today. 

The company last week told staff that they may close bases in Cork and Shannon this winter if the situation doesn’t change. 

Asked whether adopting the European Commission’s system would mean this threat would recede, Wilson said it would if the UK was also on the list. 

“Yes. I mean, particularly about 50% of our traffic here, or just over 50% this winter, is from and to the UK. So inclusion of the UK under this new system would be absolutely critical to our decision in terms of capacity in Cork this winter,” he said. 

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Asked about the spike in infections across Europe and whether this would mean a country’s status changing at short notice to become a ‘red zone’, Wilson said the EU would be looking at a number of different metrics to judge where a country is at.

I think the European Commission are going to look at two measurements. It’s not just the (14-day incidence) number that you refer to there. But it’ll also be the rate of positive testing, a country will have to have at least 250 tests per 100,000 population per week. And they will look at that in conjunction with the infection rate. And on that basis, decide whether it’s a green, orange or red country. 

“And on that basis I think you’ll see the vast majority of Europe and the UK return into a green zone, and then it’ll be up to the individual health authorities to follow up on track and tracing then.

“So at least you can give people the certainty that countries are going to be open for a particular period of time,” Wilson added.

“And if it changed in terms of infection, you can gradually see that and people can adjust their behaviour accordingly. But it’s important that they adopt a European approach. We missed it in July, there’s an opportunity today for the government to come out in an unequivocal way and say they’re going to adopt that. “

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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