Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Irish aviation is under unprecedented pressure because of the international travel restrictions introduced as part of our national public health strategy. There is no question about that, and it has resulted in job losses and extreme hardship across the sector on workers and on previously thriving businesses. In recognition of this, the Government has introduced a range of financial measures to help alleviate the worst of this hardship - through wage supports, commercial rates waivers, tax deferrals, and various grants and liquidity schemes - and the Budget will seek to do more. However, unquestionably what the industry needs is the opportunity to start trading properly again and to begin on the road to recovery. That is what Government wants too.
The international travel restrictions have been in place for much longer that we would have hoped for earlier in the year, but for so long as they are deemed an essential part of the overall effort to contain the spread of the virus then the negative impact on Irish aviation is unavoidable. The Aviation Taskforce has set out clearly what the industry needs to recover, and whilst not all of this is possible at this stage, what can be done has been done: wage subsidy has been extended to April next year; liquidity supports have been made available through the ISIF Pandemic Stability Fund; safe air travel protocols have been finalised and published; and emergency funding has been allocated in support of Shannon Airport.
In addition, every effort is being made to agree European travel standards and to develop a national framework that will allow us to adopt and apply those standards as best as possible. The Government is committed to this, but it is also the case that introducing a workable and effective testing regime to support greater levels of international air travel is challenging.
International and regional air connectivity is highly valued by the Government. It is the backbone of our economic model. Protecting it remains high on the Government agenda.