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Coronavirus: Next spring 'before NI airports and travel back to normal'

 

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Hopeful: Jennifer McKeever

Hopeful: Jennifer McKeever

Hopeful: Jennifer McKeever

Northern Ireland's airports and demand for flights may not return to some form of normality until spring next year, it has been claimed.

Jennifer McKeever, who owns the Airporter bus business, said she's hopeful her business will restart this summer but that the appetite for wider flying, whether domestic or international, is not likely to return until April.

 

"Truthfully, it would be next spring," she said. "There will be a return to travel and we are anticipating being operational again this summer.

"I think there will be pent-up demand and lots of families haven't seen each other - there have been birthdays missed, grandchildren arriving, and celebrations."

She said "we are going to have to get used" to wearing masks on board flights, as well as taking the other precautions in a bid to curb any further spread of the virus.

Ms McKeever was speaking on the latest edition of the Ulster Business podcast, along with Londonderry Chamber of Commerce boss Paul Clancy, about what impact the Covid-19 crisis has had on the north west.

"We are one of those businesses which did close," she said.

"That week between March 16 and 20 was just a colossal shock to all sorts of businesses.

"We were a bit of a canary in the mine because we could see we were going to cease business in a matter of days, so we are, and have been, one of those businesses which have been completely closed and staff on furlough."

Mr Clancy said while many businesses in Derry were ahead of the curve and prepared for lockdown, it was a "huge shock".

He said reopening will be focused around "getting as much money spent in the local economy as possible", and while some firms may not survive there are opportunities, including creating employment following the announcement of the new proposed medical school, and increased demand for PPE.

You can hear the podcast at www.ulsterbusiness.com

Belfast Telegraph