11 June 2020
By Mary Bermingham
Aircoach – which links Patrick’s Quay, Cork City with Dublin City and Dublin Airport – is calling on the Government for clarity and financial support on re-starting and sustaining Ireland’s private bus and coach industry in the coming weeks and months.
Aircoach, has many other routes beyond Cork, it’s business “ground to a halt” in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty looms as to whether or not the industry will be in a position to resume or sustain services in the coming months. As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the industry needs clarity from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, and will require short term financial support, says Dervla McKay, Managing Director of Aircoach.
Dervla McKay said,
“As per the Government’s guidelines, transport providers are to actively restrict and monitor passenger numbers to ensure compliance with social distancing. While we completely understand the need to restrict passenger numbers, this will mean that with the current two-meter restriction in place, a total of 11 passengers will be able to travel on our coaches instead of a normal 49. In order to meet demand, as well as having a viable business, we will need to almost double our fleet. The industry hasn’t received clarity on this issue from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport which is very much needed.”
Prior to COVID-19, Aircoach operated five 24-hour services connecting Dublin Airport, Dublin City Centre, Belfast, Cork, Greystones, Bray, Leopardstown, Killiney and Dalkey.
Commenting on the implications for transport providers, Dervla McKay added,
“Without short-term support from the Government, it won’t be financially viable for Aircoach and the majority of Ireland’s private operators to resume business. While we are grateful to avail of the current wage subsidy scheme for our employees, support will be needed to resume and protect services while restrictions are in place. As restrictions ease and demand increases, it may also be necessary to operate additional coaches due to the reduced capacity per coach. The safety of our passengers is of utmost importance to us and always has been but the industry will need support from the Government. We are currently preparing our fleet with additional safety measures in order to best protect our customers and employees.”
“With the current measures in place, it is more financially viable to leave our coaches at the depot than putting them out on the road.”
Ireland’s private coach and bus industry play a significant role in transporting the nation of Ireland and employs 11,500 full-time staff. In 2019, Aircoach facilitated over 2.7 million passenger journeys alone.