State intervention for the aviation industry must be considered

28 May 2020

Labour TD for Dublin Fingal, Duncan Smith has called on the Government to urgently bring forward a plan to rebuild the Irish aviation sector.

Deputy Smith said:

“We all know that there is a significant amount of pressure on the aviation sector and that the sector faces and will continue to face many challenges unless there is intervention from Government.

“The Covid-19 situation we find ourselves living through has presented unique consequences for the aviation sector, with passenger numbers plummeting. Qurantines, varying travel restrictions and closed borders have impacted most destinations that Irish passengers can travel to and from. We know that people are extremely concerned about the future of air travel and the physical distancing conditions that will be available onboard aircrafts.

“Thousands of jobs are at risk both directly in the aviation sector and indirectly in the tourism and hospitality sectors that rely so heavily on air passengers.

“This year could prove to be Year Zero for our aviation industry. We need both the State and stakeholders to act together to ensure that our airlines are viable into the future.

“We only need to look at the German Government’s intervention into helping their own aviation sector with their comprehensive bailout for Lufthansa. It is time for our Government to bring stakeholders together in a similar fashion and devise a scheme that supports and sustains our Irish aviation sector long into the future.

“As part of this, the State should look at taking part-ownership of any airline that avails of State Aid. Participating airlines should be required to uphold a minimum standards of good practice, including recognising trade unions, negotiating with employees’ representative of choice and the industrial relations mechanisms of the State.

“We are an island nation, we are not blind to the fact that we rely heavily on a strong and functioning aviation industry operating not just out of Dublin Airport, but also Cork, Shannon and Knock airports.

“We need strong reassurances that regional airports such as Shannon Airport won’t be abandoned as we come out of this crisis, as has been suggested in the last few days through the actions of Aer Lingus.

“I’ll be calling on the Ministers for Transport and Finance and Public Expenditure to publish a plan in consultation with trade unions and other stakeholders in the coming weeks on how to engage with the aviation sector and ensure it has a viable future.”

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