More than warm words needed to protect aviation jobs - Darren O’Rourke TD
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD called on the government to step in and protect the aviation and travel sectors during the current Covid-19 crisis.
The Meath East TD said:
“I welcome the statement from Minister Hildegarde Naughton TD this afternoon where she said if more is needed to be done for the aviation sector, it will be done.
“The truth is much more does need to be done. The government must intervene directly to protect jobs and our state’s air connectivity.
“The aviation and travel sectors are facing huge challenges as a result of the extension of the Covid-19 travel restrictions. These restrictions are very necessary but their implication for workers in the sector must be acknowledged and responded to.
“Pilots, cabin crew, ground staff, travel agents and others in the aviation and travel sectors are amongst the hardest hit workers due to the collapse of international travel during the pandemic.
“Many have not worked in almost a year, others have lost their jobs altogether, while those remaining have suffered significant pay cuts during that time.
“In addition to introducing protections for workers such as a payment break for borrowers, and the expansion of CRSS to include travel agents, we believe direct engagement by the government with airlines is needed to protect routes and prevent further job losses in the sector. A survival package is needed.
“The government are sitting on €245 million of a so-called 'Connectivity Fund'. This is what remains of the disastrous decision to sell the state’s remaining shares in Aer Lingus in 2015.
“The fund is designed to ‘support projects which enhance Ireland’s physical, virtual or energy connectivity.’
“The fund will support none of these if it is left unused.
“We believe the government should examine options for this fund such as a cash for equity offer to the former state owned airline or providing a line of credit to airlines based here in exchange for assurances on jobs, workers’ rights and the protection of routes.
“I welcome Minister Naughton’s statement in the Dáil this afternoon, but it needs to be followed up with immediate action.
“More than warm words are needed to protect aviation jobs.”