On Wednesday 3 June, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, announced a proposal to establish a Task Force for Aviation Recovery. The taskforce is charged with developing and advising on the framework for restarting the Irish aviation industry.
On 23 June, the taskforce delivered its Interim Report to the Minister. In the Interim Report, the taskforce explained that they will deliver their final report by the 10 July deadline; but chose to submit an Interim Report because it had identified a small number of measures and decisions which it considered urgent and required the immediate attention of the Minister and the Government.
In the Interim Report, the taskforce makes four recommendations:
1. Travel Restrictions
Urgently clarify the process and milestones to be reached to ease the travel restrictions which are currently in place for non-essential air travel. This urgent clarification should then facilitate the easing of travel restrictions, ideally by 1st July 2020.
2. Quarantine amelioration
Urgently clarify the process and milestones to be reached in ameliorating the current 14-day recommended quarantine period. This urgent clarification should then facilitate the lifting of the quarantine, ideally by 1st July 2020.
3. Code of Practice for Safe Air Travel
Urgently adopt a national Code of Practice for Safe Air Travel, which applies the Aviation Health Safety Protocols developed by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the Irish context.
4. Continue existing Covid-19 relief measures
Urgently confirm continuation of existing financial support measures, including in particular the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to support employment where possible. The reduction in aviation activity over the summer will make the traditional loss-making winter period in aviation particularly challenging.
The Interim Report was delivered after two meetings by the taskforce on 12 and 19 June, and the receipt of submissions from 17 parties, including airport authorities, industry bodies and public and private enterprises in the aviation industry.
On receiving the Interim Report, in a Government press release (1) the Minister said:
“I welcome the publication of the Interim Report of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce and commend the members for the sense of urgency they have brought to the challenge of identifying proposals to support the recovery of a critical sector of our economy. I note there will be a Final Report in the coming weeks, and I look forward to receiving that, which I understand will contain further proposals focused on what needs to be done over the next number of years.
Regarding the Interim Report, it very succinctly captures the huge importance of the sector to the Irish economy, and it very clearly sets out the case for taking steps to be taken to begin opening up to international travel sooner rather than later. There are of course important public health issues to be considered, which the Report acknowledges, and I will give the matters my priority attention and ensure that they are considered as a matter of urgency by the Government.”
In the report, the taskforce acknowledges Ireland’s envied leadership position in aviation, and the impact it has on the wider economy. It states that all elements of the aviation value chain need to be viable if we are to rebuild and sustain our connectivity in the future, and calls on the Government to prioritise the recovery of this critical industry which enables large scale tourism, international business and exports.
The full text of the Interim Report can be accessed here: https://assets.gov.ie/77580/46137581-44ce-40ff-8918-810a99c683ee.pdf