Minister Ryan must act to protect the aviation sector - Darren O’Rourke TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD today called on the Minister for Transport to outline the Government’s plan for supporting the aviation sector here, as it continues to suffer as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Meath East TD said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the aviation sector, and the Government must step in and provide financial support while all non-essential international travel is on hold.
“Sinn Féin supports limiting international travel at this time, to protect against coronavirus variants and insulate our vaccination roll-out, but we also recognise this adds further pressure on the aviation industry, so more must be done to protect it to ensure it’s still here after this pandemic subsides.
“We’ve asked the Government if they will utilise the quarter of a billion euro in the so called ‘Connectivity Fund’ to achieve this, but so far they have ignored this avenue.
“This money won’t protect jobs or air connectivity sitting in the NTMA’s accounts.
“I’ve also tried to ascertain how much money airlines based here have sought in financial support from the Government, but Minister Ryan continues to dodge this important question.
“It’s vital we know what these asks are. The sector supports 140,000 jobs here.
“Last year, as part of a European wide move, the requirement that airlines here use at least 80% of their take-off and landing positions, or risk losing them the following year, was waived until March 27th of this year.
“With no signs of improvement for the sector in the short term, we think this wavier should be now extended, which can also assist airlines in the short term.
“In addition to providing financial support, aviation workers need personal protections extended such as a payment break, protection from credit rating impairment and the accrual of additional interest during this time.
“The Minister for Transport cannot continue to ignore crisis facing aviation.
“The Government should also now consider establishing a new Aviation Recovery Taskforce, as so much has changed since the original group was convened and reported last summer.
“The group should examine changes since then and cover a range of topics, from rapid testing that can be incorporated into people’s travel in the future, international travel proposals from the European Union and wider government supports for the sector.”