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Ireland should build "aviation corridor" with US to help recovery, group says.

An aviation group has said Ireland should use its special relationship with the United States of America to help the sector recover.

Captain Simon Croghan from the Recover Irish Aviation group has warned the lack of a plan for the industry will see more aircraft leaving.

But he told The Hard Shoulder things are sounding more positive.

“There’s green shoots there, we’re obviously very aware that we can’t do two summers without revenue.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the employees coming from their employers – so if we don’t get meaningful revenue, and quickly, there’s going to be decisions made.”

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if a business isn’t making money, they’re going to start… looking – and looking very hard – at what they can do.

“These airlines have been very successful in Ireland, and they’re already moving their assets outside the country.

“We’ve got aircraft moved; they’re not buildings, so it’s easy to put them in other places.

“We’ve got aircraft from Irish airlines now in Belfast, in Manchester – and if we don’t get a meaningful plan and meaningful engagement, that’s going to happen even more”.

He said they will take July as a resumption date.

“July, meaningful plan, based on the UK and the EU – and then lets use our special relationship with the President of the United States and let’s try and build a safe corridor between Ireland and America and get this country back moving again”.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan earlier said he expects people will able to go on foreign holidays this year, but not until later in the summer.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: “I expect we will open international travel – [but] we have to be very careful, as we don’t want to create false expectations.

“Whether it’s going to visit a friend or family, or for work, or whether for some people it’s for a holiday… when I say open up international travel, it’s for a variety of different purposes.

“I don’t want to give an exact date, as we have to work with our European colleagues in having an international system.”

‘We don’t want to be forgotten’

But Captain Croghan said a lot of families have taken a double hit.

“We’ve already had quite a number of redundancies, we’ve had people on virtually no income, people hanging in there with PUP payments.

“And in aviation, we’ve got an awful lot of double income families – so where both earners are in aviation – and that’s been extremely difficult.

“We’re all aware of the public health measures, we’ve all been adopting them, we’re all very careful about that: but we don’t want to be forgotten.

“We have to have a meaningful plan, we have to have something that has clarity… and I think this week we’re hearing positive noises”.

“We don’t have a plan as yet, we’re being told a plan will appear by the end of May and that needs to happen”.

And he added that Ireland’s reputation is at-risk.

“There is an issue of us being an outlier: almost all the other airlines around Europe have got financial help, and considerable financial help.

“That really hasn’t happened in this country.”

He said Ireland is home to two airlines, and 60% of the world’s leasing companies are based here.

“We are a huge heavy hitter in aviation worldwide, we’ve got tremendous reputation – we just don’t want to be at the back of the queue when this all restarts”.

 

Ireland Should Build ‘Aviation Corridor’ With US To Help Recovery, Group Says

 

‘Last on our list’

Earlier this month Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said Ireland was ‘last on its list’ for investment going forward.

He pointed to the fact that about 8% of the carrier’s traffic is in and out of Ireland.

He said: “Over the last two months we’ve been making investment decisions… we’ve done a 10-year deal in Stansted, we’ve opened a base in Paris, we’ve opened a base in Zadar, Zagreb.

“I was on with the president of Sicily the other day, who’s welcoming us with open arms – and Sicily has a population larger than Ireland.

“Ireland is the last on our list at the moment for two reasons.

“Not necessarily a date of when we’re getting out of this, but what are the metrics to get us out of this in terms of infection rates, etc.

“And the second thing is put some incentive into an island nation that relies on travel in and out of here”.

While Aer Lingus announced temporary lay-offs at Shannon Airport back in March.

It said as no flights had operated to or from the airport since April 5th 2020, it was “not sustainable to continue to roster staff to the current levels when there is no work available.”

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