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Hope 'travel bubbles' can help airlines bounce back

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Dublin Airport has been almost deserted since lockdown began

Dublin Airport has been almost deserted since lockdown began

Dublin Airport has been almost deserted since lockdown began

Ireland is to look at creating of special "travel bubbles" to help the crippled aviation industry recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government has been urged by Irish airports and airlines to adopt a recovery model now being implemented worldwide to help the aviation industry bounce back.

Passenger numbers having collapsed 99pc since February.

The Government will debate a plan to adopt travel bubbles, or safe travel corridors, from July/August between countries that have the same epidemiological convergence of low and declining virus cases and comparable Covid-19 control measures.

The UK is already considering the introduction of such corridors, with Ireland expected to be among the preferred partner destinations, although its Covid-19 detection rate will likely place it in the second tranche of such areas.

Ireland is currently ranked green, or extremely low-risk, because of the number of per capita virus cases and the success of the national pandemic control measures.

Germany, Denmark, Norway and the Benelux countries are also ranked as green. The UK is currently ranked at orange risk.

Such proposed low-risk air routes will be protected by a strict regime of measures agreed at both departure and arrival points, with both countries required to have a similar Covid-19 status.

The "safe travel" controls will include careful screening of all intended passengers, monitoring of destinations for Covid-19 spikes, deep cleaning of aircraft, the wearing of face masks during travel, strict contact tracing details, aircraft remaining assigned to specific routes and a strict social distancing of 1.5 metres.

Deterrent

Temperature checks at airports, which may require legislation, are also being considered.

China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand have already adopted the model as a means of helping their aviation industries resume operations.

The model offers a critical option for a phased withdrawal from 14-day quarantine demands, which aviation officials warned effectively act as a deterrent to travel.

Such quarantine arrangements have been described as "too blunt an instrument" for the medium to long-term recovery of the travel industry.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have lifted strict travel restrictions between their countries, while airlines warned they need firm recovery measures.