Industry

Published on June 4th, 2020 | by Alan Dwyer

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Minister Ross announces Taskforce for Aviation Recovery

In a speech to the Dail on Wednesday 3rd June, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Transport Shane Ross proposed the creation a task force for Aviation Recovery. The plan is for the Minister to appoint key stakeholders from the industry to this task force within the next week and will ask them to report back to the Minister within 4 weeks with a plan, ready to relaunch the aviation industry in Ireland.

The aviation industry is one of the most affected by the global pandemic. In Europe air traffic movements fell to as low as 10% of the levels from comparable period last year – mainly buoyed up by cargo flights. Passenger traffic has fallen to a trickle – around 1% of what might be expected. The various businesses right through the aviation value chain, with the sole exception of dedicated cargo operators, have seen severe depletion of revenue and are facing various degrees of financial challenge.

In an industry that has always been cyclical in nature and highly susceptible to external shock, the scale of setback now being experiences is unprecedented. Aircraft have never before been grounded in the way that we are now seeing. The future remains highly uncertain and because of the inevitable employment impact, the human cost will be high. Ireland has historically had a huge dependence on aviation. As an island economy built largely on international trade and foreign direct investment, aviation is the lifeline that connects us to the global economy. 

Minister Shane Ross

Minister Shane Ross said “I know that the aviation industry is anxious to have some visibility of how and when we will move forward to reopening for business and it is concerned that aviation does not feature in the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Business and Society.  I share that concern. While some companies at the outset of the crisis were in a very strong financial position in comparison with industry peers none are immune from the need to reduce costs and restructure their business. We have all seen the public announcements about reduced employment.  There is a broad consensus that the recovery of the industry will take time. While there were hopes at earlier stages in the crisis that next year might see a return to business as usual there is an increasing consensus that a recovery will be slow with some predicting that 2019 levels of traffic will not be achieved again until 2023”   

Therefore in addition to establishing a Taskforce for Aviation Recovery my Department is progressing the development of an Aviation Recovery Plan through a number of inter-related strands of work.

The Minister then set out the schedule for the Aviation Recovery Plan for the Aviation Sector.

  • Firstly, we are looking to the experience of other countries in opening borders and monitor the effectiveness of measures to control any resumption of COVID 19 growth.  We will consider how a phased approach to reopening might developed based on the criteria outlined by the European Commission as a basis for an aligned European approach.  We will of course work closely with the Department of Health and other relevant Departments in this regard.
  • Secondly, in consultation with the National Facilitation Committee, my Department and the Department of Health will agree the new protocols that should be applied to promote health and virus control in the aviation journey. I expect that a code of practice will be finalised and published in the coming weeks.
  • Thirdly, we will  continue a close bilateral engagement with both State-owned and non-State owned parts of the industry that are critical to future connectivity with regard to capability and readiness to resume operations. 
  • Fourthly, subject to close consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, we will consider what support measures, if any, beyond the horizontal supports already adopted, may be necessary to facilitate the rapid return of a strong aviation industry that can, in turn, support the wider economy through the recovery phase.

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