Wednesday, 29 July 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
I join Senator Dooley in seeking a debate on the aviation sector. We have all received emails from Aer Lingus pilots. The airline is in a precarious position and this must be addressed by us, as Members of the Upper House, and by the Government. Yesterday, Mr. Ray Gray, the chief financial officer of the Dublin Airport Authority, was before the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response. He spoke about the impact of Covid-19 on regional airports, especially Cork Airport, which is the second-busiest airport in the country. Some €72 million has been allocated to Kerry Airport, Galway Airport and Ireland West Airport Knock under the national development plan. However, there was no funding for Cork. The airport now has no income apart from its passenger revenue and revenue accrued by its shops, which are all closed. It does not receive financial aid from the State but I believe that it and our other airports should. Passenger numbers at Cork Airport will fall below 1 million this year from 2.6 million in 2019. Members will realise the importance of the airport sector, especially in the south. Cork Airport is pivotal to the economic development of the southern region in the context of tourism and jobs. It is important that we have a very strong aviation sector. Our aviation sector is dependent upon airlines. Cognisance must be taken of what Senator Dooley said about Aer Lingus. In the short time before the House goes into recess, I ask the Acting Leader to ensure that the Minister with responsibility for aviation comes before us for a debate on the future of Aer Lingus, our airline sector and our airports. Let us forget about the green list and the red list. We will need airports when we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. I was in Cork Airport two weeks ago. One could hear the wind whistling outside the terminal building. I ask for the Minister to come to the House as a matter of urgency.