Additional supports needed to protect aviation jobs and connectivity - Darren O’Rourke TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD has written to the Minister for Transport requesting additional supports be made available to protect jobs in the aviation sector.
Speaking today, the Meath East TD said:
“Sinn Féin have been clear in our support to limit the number of non-essential international arrivals into the state at this time.
“Given the very high infection levels, the emergence of new coronavirus variants and the importance of protecting the vaccine roll-out, we believe very strict rules for international arrivals are essential during this time.
“We do realise that this means an extension of the current challenges faced by those working in the aviation sector, but we think decisive action now will help the aviation sector recover more quickly.
“The Minister for Transport must acknowledge the huge impact these necessary restrictions will have on the aviation sector, and he must move to protect jobs and our air connectivity.
“The government cannot continue to ignore the need for crucial protections for workers such as a payment break for borrowers, protection from credit rating impairment and the accrual of additional interest during this time.
“In addition to these, we believe tailored supports should be introduced for workers in the aviation industry who are facing into months more of uncertainty and possible further job losses.
“Pilots, cabin crew and ground staff in our airports have been some of the hardest hit workers due to the collapse of international travel during the pandemic.
“The government are sitting on a quarter of a billion euro in the so called ‘Connectivity Fund’.
“This €245 million is what remains of the proceeds of Fine Gael and Labour’s disastrous decision to fully privatise Aer Lingus.
“Last year we questioned whether this could be used to retake a state share in Aer Lingus, recognising the airline as an important strategic asset.
“In addition to protecting jobs, as an island nation we cannot afford to lose key international routes. It takes a huge amount of work to establish these links and if they are allowed to disappear now it will be incredibly hard to win them back.
“It is vital that important routes from Cork and Shannon are also protected. As international travel resumes, we need a comprehensive plan to grow passenger numbers into these international airports to promote balanced regional growth. Protecting key routes from these airports at this time will be crucial to that.
“We believe the Connectivity Fund should be used now to protect aviation jobs and air routes from Ireland.
“The government must listen to the legitimate concerns of workers and trade union representatives in this industry and work with them and airlines to put a comprehensive plan in place to support the aviation sector going forward.”