Published on December 12th, 2020 | by Mark Dwyer0
Joint Committee Report on the Aviation Industry
The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks have published their report covering Issues affecting the aviation industry. The report examines the issues affecting the aviation sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and highlights measures that needed to be taken to ensure the recovery and sustainability of this important sector. The Committee has examined three main areas of concern:
- The impact of Covid-19 on the aviation sector,
- Airport Testing and the EU Traffic Light system,
- Medium term policy approach to developing Irish Aviation sector.
The Committee heard from a wide range of witnesses, encompassing airlines, airports in Ireland and abroad, aviation sector employee representatives and representatives from the travel industry. Although the situation continues to evolve, the Committee identified 20 recommendations to mitigate the devastating impact the pandemic has had on airports, airlines, workers and the wider business, tourism and hospitality sectors.
The Joint Committee is greatly concerned at the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the aviation sector and its future viability, including on airlines and airports.
Certain State supports have already been extended to airports. The Committee welcomed the further operational and capital funding supports of €22 million for Cork and Shannon Airport, in addition to the €10 million in capital funding announced in Budget 2021, which were announced on 10th November 2020. The Committee also welcomed the additional €6 million in operational funding for regional airports but calls on the Government to provide additional capital funding for these airports.
It has been particularly difficult for employees working in the sector. It is critical that the link between employer and employee is maintained during the pandemic, as there is a risk that highly qualified and highly skilled workers will leave the aviation industry out of necessity, and not return.
The issues affecting the aviation sector have also had an impact on the wider business, tourism and hospitality sectors, which rely on air connectivity for a significant portion of their business. The success of Ireland’s aviation sector is not only key to the tourism and hospitality sector but also the wider economy. An important factor in Ireland’s ability to attract foreign direct investment and multinationals is our connectivity to the UK, North America, mainland Europe.
Air connectivity is set to play an even more significant role as the Brexit transition period comes to an end and we look to strengthen ties with EU trading partners.
Cork Airport welcomed the publication of the report, Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director, Cork Airport said: “We are working our way through the contents of the report but particularly welcome the recommendations on the acceleration of validation studies on rapid, low-cost, scalable pre-departure testing and in particular rapid antigen testing.”
“We are already planning for the recovery of aviation which may take three to four years but we anticipate will start in March/April 2021. In this context, and the ability to rebound, to create connectivity and to rebuild routes for business and tourism, we very strongly welcome the recommendation that Cork Airport be admitted to the 2020 to 2025 Regional Airports funding programmes for both Capital and Operating Expenditure.”
“The team at Cork Airport strongly welcomes the hard work of the Committee in meeting so many representatives of aviation and travel including ourselves and our parent group daa to hear the needs and plans of the aviation sector to recommence growth and to assist in the rebuild of the Irish economy post COVID. On that basis, we welcome the report and particularly endorse the recommendation that the airport charges rebate scheme be extended to September 2021 or perhaps even further. This will allow airports and airlines the economic space to plan the reintroduction of routes for summer 2021 and kick start the recovery of the tourism and hospitality industries.”
“We will study the Committee’s 48-page report and its 20 key recommendations and we will continue to work with elected representatives and other key stakeholders to ensure we play our part in the recovery of the South of Ireland economy and its connectivity post-COVID.”
The full report, including the 20 recommendations are available to read here.