| 11.1°C Dublin

'European aviation is opening and we're being left behind' - new call for clarity

Close

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh. Photo: Bloomberg

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh. Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh. Photo: Bloomberg

The Government has been warned any further extension of the two-week quarantine rule will disastrously exacerbate the economic impact of Covid-19 on Ireland's aviation industry.

Airlines and airports are now urging the incoming Government to adopt the "safe travel corridor" system being used by major EU countries to help kick-start the recovery of their aviation industries.

Both Spain and Italy have reopened for tourists, though Ireland has still warned against all but essential foreign travel.

Ireland has extended the two-week quarantine rule until July 9, but a major review is expected on June 29.

Air France will relaunch its Cork-Paris route from July 1, but passengers will have to wear face masks and be subjected to temperature checks before departure in Paris.

Airlines including Ryanair and Aer Lingus are planning major seat sales from July in a bid to salvage something from the summer season.

Both carriers have already implemented staff furloughs, pay cuts and even job losses in the face of the crisis.

Aer Lingus signalled 500 job losses last week and holiday firms are now hoping to boost bookings for August into late September from Irish families tired of lockdown.

One study has showed almost 64pc of Irish people are planning a foreign trip in the next three to 12 months.

However, one airline official said booking levels in July were currently below forecast levels.

Empty

"We cannot plan without greater certainty from the Government and we now urgently need clarity on the dates for reform or removal of the mandatory blanket 14-day quarantine on arrival. European aviation is opening up and we are now being left behind," they said.

Some aircraft now face the prospect of flying in July while 75pc empty. Shannon, Cork and Ireland West Airport Knock are facing a 70pc loss of traffic and passenger numbers for 2020 - even allowing for a small recovery in traffic from July.

Dublin Airport faces a similar scenario, with traffic down by 98pc in April compared to the previous year.

Shannon chief executive Mary Considine said air traffic levels were unlikely to return to levels recorded in 2019 until 2023.

"We're looking at this stage at losses of up to 70pc in traffic year-on-year," she said.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh warned that carriers were now facing an unprecedented peacetime challenge.

"The industry has changed and anybody who believes that we're going back to the way things were in 2019 misunderstands the scale of the challenge that is being faced," he said.

IAG owns Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia - and had hoped to return flight schedules to 45pc capacity by September.

However, other European airlines are far more pessimistic about their recovery, with Air France-KLM only planning to operate at 20pc capacity by September of this year.