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Ryanair cuts UK flights blaming 'wide open' NI border

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Ryanair is to cut 1,000 Republic of Ireland to UK flights (Niall Carson/PA)

Ryanair is to cut 1,000 Republic of Ireland to UK flights (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Ryanair is to cut 1,000 Republic of Ireland to UK flights (Niall Carson/PA)

Ryanair has announced it is cutting 1,000 flights from the Republic of Ireland to the UK in August and September over the Irish Government's 14 quarantine regulation saying it makes "no sense" while the border with Northern Ireland remains "wide open".

The Republic requires all travellers except those from Northern Ireland to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

In a statement a spokesperson for the budget airline said that it made no sense that people from Northern Ireland could travel freely to mainland Europe via Dublin "without any quarantine restrictions whatsoever".

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Ryanair estimated that cancelled flights would result in the loss of over 200,000 passengers.

The airline said the decision was taken as "Ireland maintains a defective quarantine restriction on EU visitors even as the UK and Northern Ireland last week opened up air bridges to most EU countries".

On Tuesday Tanaiste Leo Varadkar ruled out mandatory quarantine for people arriving into the Republic of Ireland, saying it "turned out to be a bit of a disaster" in Australia.

Ryanair said that the Republic of Ireland, its tourism industry and commuters were now being negatively affected "as arriving EU passengers are forced to quarantine even while the border to Northern Ireland remains wide open with no such quarantines".

A spokesperson for Ryanair complained that it made "no sense" for the Republic of Ireland to be the only country in the EU with the policy as many of the countries affected had lower rates of Covid-19.

The spokesperson said the loss of the flights would mean 100,000 fewer visitors to the Republic of Ireland during the peak of the tourism season.

"This unique policy by Ireland, insisting on blanket quarantines with our European neighbours (most of whom have lower Covid case rates than Ireland) is damaging the recovery of Ireland’s economy and our tourism industry, causing long-term damage to jobs in Ireland’s largest employment sector, with business travellers in particular being told that Ireland is closed for business," the spokesperson said.

Ryanair called on the Irish Government to remove the restrictions as a "matter of urgency so that Ireland’s hotels, guest houses, restaurants and other tourism providers can recover their business and minimise job losses before we reach the downturn winter period.

"If Micheal Martin does not quarantine for 14 days after visiting Brussels this week, then why should any other Irish or EU citizen be treated differently," the spokesperson concluded.

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar speaking to the media as he arrived for the Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar speaking to the media as he arrived for the Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar speaking to the media as he arrived for the Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Varadkar said the Government intends to publish a "green list" of countries where it safe to travel to and from without having to quarantine next week.

"What we're going to do when it comes to travelling to countries that aren't on the green list or a list is (look at) tighter controls - that could mean putting the passenger locator form online and it also means potentially looking at testing," he added.

"People will say testing is inferior to mandatory quarantine, but if we know mandatory quarantine can't be done then maybe it's better to do something like that than nothing at all."

Belfast Telegraph