Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 5 May 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
Challenges Facing Travel Agents and the Aviation Sector: Discussion
Mr. Pat Dawson:
On several occasions we have spoken to people in Aer Lingus, as a large carrier to and from this country. They tell us it will take two to three months to get 40% or 50% of their fleet in the air. It is not just a switch-on-the-oven situation and away we go. Airlines need to know what will be happening in two or three months' time. If we are slow in getting moving, everybody will be affected, both inbound and outbound., including the airports.
As the Deputy said, home holidays are the thing at the moment. Travel agents are looking at September bookings. We had a nightmare getting refunds and making changes for people. We have advised all our customers to make sure their booking is refundable or changeable. Last year we had the discussion about ghost flights, which was the biggest scandal in the industry in Ireland where aeroplanes flew empty and airlines kept the people's money. Thousands of families were affected by this. We are very much aware of the risk of that recurring. We do not need that uncertainly and the customers do not need it.