Dáil debates

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements


2:40 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I will make sure those notes to which Deputy Ó Murchú referred are brought to my attention. I am genuine in what I say about wanting to help out firms that are, perhaps, falling between the cracks and not receiving any help with fixed costs. It is always hard to design a scheme that works for everyone but we will do our best to design future schemes. The note the Deputy is going to send will be helpful in my engagement with NBI. I thank him for that as well.

With regard to aviation, and I do not necessarily mean anyone present in the House at the moment when I say this, I believe there are people in this House who are trying to have it both ways, who call for radical climate action one day and massive supports for aviation the next, who call for aviation effectively to be halted through mandatory hotel quarantining for all, probably down to a handful of flights a day, and then oppose what the Government is trying to do, which is to maintain at least some degree of reasonable and essential travel, with testing, to the UK and Europe. That cannot hold forever. Either we are going to try to help aviation to survive with a certain degree of essential travel as safely as possible or we are not. Once we get into mandatory quarantine in hotels for all, it is very hard to see how aviation can return to any level of reasonable activity for quite some time. Who knows when it will even be possible?

The aviation sector is receiving much financial support from Government. The airlines are among the main beneficiaries of the employment wage subsidy scheme, EWSS, receiving millions to help pay their staff. Aer Lingus has access to funding from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ISIF, and there have been indirect Government grants to Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, Shannon Airport and to the regional airports. That will continue but it cannot continue indefinitely if we do not allow people to fly again at some point when it is safe to do so.


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