Bitter rivals Aer Lingus and Ryanair have joined forces to urge the Irish government to remove international travel restrictions this summer.
The two carriers and Irish airports put forward an aviation restart plan to ministers in Dublin to “facilitate restoration of connectivity whilst continuing to protect public health”.
Irish aviation industry leaders made a plea for a broad package of “robust financial incentives and supports” for the sector in line with EU state aid rules to assist recovery and to ensure that Ireland restores its connectivity.
They put forward a series of recommendations to enable the restoration of international connectivity from June including the removal of a ban on non-essential foreign travel and the need to quarantine in hotels.
“It is imperative that the government acts now, and without any further delay. A failure to do so will irreversibly damage Ireland’s world-leading aviation sector which is so important to the country,” the group said.
“Developing a roadmap as an immediate priority to enable the restart of aviation is therefore critical to enable effective airline and airport planning processes in time for a restart of aviation this summer,” the group under the National Civil Aviation Development Forum (NCADF) banner pointed out.
The group warned that the aviation industry in Ireland will not recover if quarantine and travel restrictions remain in place “causing significant job losses and irreparable harm to the Irish economy”.
In a statement issued to coincide with the publication of the industry restart proposals, the NCADF said: “The aviation sector works to long lead-times and in order to be ready to respond to demand in the coming months as vaccination levels reach critical mass, tangible parameters must be set to enable our industry to plan for the re-opening of international travel – including for the removal of the ban on all non-essential international travel and any requirement for hotel quarantine.”
The restart plan says: “The aviation sector cannot begin to recover from the current crisis until the ban on non-essential international travel is removed.”
It calls for the opening up travel between Ireland and the UK “at the earliest opportunity” while it is “critical” that to plan to safely open up travel between Ireland and the US in the summer.
The plan says: “While vaccination should not be a precondition for travel, vaccinated travellers should not be subject to any travel restrictions as evidence indicates that vaccines significantly reduce the risk of transmission.”
Airline crew and aviation workers should also be prioritised for vaccinations.
Testing will continue to be a key part of the travel process even as restrictions are eased as the roll-out of vaccines gathers pace and some countries vaccinate their populations more quickly than others, according to the plan.
The European Commission’s plans for a Digital Green Pass for is encouraging and it is critical that Ireland fully supports its efforts in this area”.
The plan states: “The objective of the Digital Green Pass is to gradually enable Europeans to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.
“In parallel, Ireland should progress the development of digital certificates at national level to ensure that any potential delays at European level do not result in delays to airline capacity restoration in Ireland.”
Ministers have insisted that Ireland is on course to continue a cautious reopening of society in May and to meets its end of June vaccination target.