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Government taskforce says non-essential air travel ban should be lifted

Aer Lingus has urged the Government to immediately implement the recommendations of the report

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The Aviation Recovery Taskforce has called for the two-week quarantine period of passengers arriving in Ireland to end next month (PA)

The Aviation Recovery Taskforce has called for the two-week quarantine period of passengers arriving in Ireland to end next month (PA)

The Aviation Recovery Taskforce has called for the two-week quarantine period of passengers arriving in Ireland to end next month (PA)

A Government taskforce has called for the restrictions on non-essential air travel to be lifted by July 1, noting Ireland is significantly behind other countries.

The Aviation Recovery Taskforce has also called for the two-week quarantine period of passengers arriving in Ireland to end next month.

The interim report from the taskforce notes the extensive recommendations provided on June 11 by the European Commission, which called for member states to lift all border restrictions by June 15.

“Ireland is now significantly behind other Member States in this regard – despite having equivalent or even better success in containing Covid-19,” the taskforce states.

“As an island nation with an open economy, the taskforce calls on the Government to prioritise the recovery of this critical industry which enables large scale tourism, international business and exports,” it adds.

The taskforce is also calling for “urgent clarification” around the process regarding the 14-day recommended quarantine period, for visitors.

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People wearing protective face masks walk through Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

People wearing protective face masks walk through Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

People wearing protective face masks walk through Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

It says: “A 14-day quarantine period makes non-essential and discretionary travel challenging, and inhibits business-related travel, which is critical for the Irish economy.

“The taskforce notes that implementation of efficient test-and-trace regimes can provide effective alternatives to the current 14-day quarantine measure.”

It said the Government must “urgently adopt” a code of practice for the aviation industry that has been developed by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

It has also called for confirmation that the wage subsidy scheme would be extended for the industry along with any other financial supports.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said the interim report “very succinctly captures the huge importance of the sector to the Irish economy”.

He said: “It very clearly sets out the case for taking steps to be taken to begin opening up to international travel sooner rather than later.  There are of course important public health issues to be considered, which the report acknowledges, and I will give the matters my priority attention and ensure that they are considered as a matter of urgency by the Government.”

Aer Lingus urged the Government to immediately implement the taskforce recommendations.

Sean Doyle, chief executive of Aer Lingus, said the Covid-19 crisis is having a “catastrophic effect” on the aviation industry.

He added: “Ireland’s failure to take steps that other European Member States have already taken has exacerbated the crisis in Irish aviation.

“This is having a negative impact upon jobs within the industry and upon the industry’s ability to recover.

“As an island economy with a huge reliance on connectivity and mobility, Ireland needs the urgent recommencement of operations in aviation.”

Ryanair chief executive Eddie Wilson called on the Government to implement its taskforce recommendations “to save what’s left of the summer season and start to recover lost airline traffic”.

Mr Wilson said: “A great number of the 140,000 Irish jobs which rely on aviation may be lost forever if these measures are not adopted without delay.”

PA