New approach needed for air travel – current system unsustainable

09 September 2020

▪️Need to balance public health advice with NPHET’s assertion that we will have to live with the virus
▪️Will lead to thousands of job losses

Speaking after the news that Ryanair are considering closing their bases in Cork and Shannon for the Winter, Labour Spokesperson on Transport, Duncan Smith T.D has requested NPHET examine new guidelines for air travel.

Deputy Smith was speaking after writing to Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronán Glynn requesting that NPHET urgently examine methodologies to allow change in the travel restrictions in order to allow people to travel into the country without quarantine while balancing any changes with the best public health advice.

Deputy Smith said:

“We have heard more stark news from the aviation sector with the possibility that Ryanair may be forced to close their base at Cork and Shannon for the Winter and this comes after Aer Lingus have threatened to pull out of Shannon in the last week.

“At the August 26th session of the Covid-19 Response Committee, Dr. Glynn stated that Ireland would have to learn to live with the virus for the foreseeable future. However, he also stated that advice on travel restrictions would remain the same for the foreseeable future.

“If we are to live alongside the virus then a system must be put in place to allow people to travel safely into and out of the country. The current system is a mess and we need a clarity on testing of international travellers and testing at airports.

“Minister Donnelly said on the 2nd of August that testing at airports was imminent, yet it has still not commenced. It is my understanding from other European cities that testing at airports while not perfect, does help reduce the risk of people coming through the airport with Covid-19.

“I am also calling on NPHET to examine the possibility of introducing a Covid clearance cert where people can be checked prior to entry to the country and can produce the cert upon arrival.

“Ultimately if Ireland is to learn to live with Covid-19 then every sector of society must adapt and that is why I am asking NPHET to re-examine the issue of travel restrictions and to provide updated clear advice. The current system is unsustainable and is leading to the decimation of the airline industry which will result in thousands of job losses in aviation and ancillary sectors. We need our aviation industry back up and running.

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