10 October 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East James O’Connor urges the need for implementation of the findings on the Taskforce on Aviation Recovery to ensure the viability of international travel connectivity for Ireland and the long-term survival of Cork Airport.
Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Transport and Communications, Deputy O’Connor challenged the Minister for Transport and Minister of State with responsibility for aviation to implement the findings of the Task Force for Aviation Recovery Report.
“It is my view that direct state aid is required in the months ahead to rescue Cork Airport and the aviation sector in general. To put it into perspective, if there were a thousand jobs lost, at any individual facility or factory there would be major public outcry. We are looking at a sector that had forty thousand directly employed before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A direct stimulus package is needed in the lead up to Budget 2021” the Deputy concluded.
James O’Connor T.D also raised the point of championing the European Traffic Light System with Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne TD.
“We must adopt and champion the European Traffic Light system at a European level.
Ireland has continued to deviate from the approach of our European partners, ignoring ECDC guidelines and adopting a failed quarantine strategy. Green and Amber regions should be determined by monitoring the level of cases as determined by the ECDC, as proposed under the current Traffic Light system European Commission proposal. Freedom of movement should be ensured across such zones.
However outside of this, we need to bring in place testing regimes for EU regions that are deemed to be in the Red Zone. This is to minimize as much disruption to international travel as possible. Quarantine is a blunt instrument that is not fit for purpose. At present, it has proven to be unenforceable, while simultaneously deterring people from entering the country. There is little evidence to suggest that air travel increases the level of infection. This is compounded by the fact that many inbound passengers arrive from areas with lower levels of COVID-19 cases.
The roll out of such rapid-testing technology such as loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) testing would greatly benefit a return to normality at our airports across Europe. If done correctly, it would bring huge certainty to international travel and enable it to function in a manner close to pre-COVID-19 levels. Ireland should be at the forefront of ensuring such investments are made. We need to ensure a return to international travel in this country.”