Local Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has met with representatives of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) to discuss ongoing concerns for the Irish aviation industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister O’Brien reaffirmed his support for the organisation and the wider aviation sector, acknowledging that the pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the industry.
Commenting he said, “I was very glad to meet with representatives from IALPA recently. As a TD for Dublin-Fingal, a constituency home to Dublin Airport, I have a deep understanding and appreciation for how important the aviation industry is to our area and to our country.
“Since this pandemic began I have been in regular contact with cabin crew and with pilots and other workers who are deeply concerned as to their futures and that of the industry.
“Supporting the aviation industry remains a priority for this Government. Unprecedented levels of funding have been provided through the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme, on commercial rates waivers for our airports, through Ireland's Strategic Investment Fund and on specific sectoral supports. I understand confidential talks are ongoing in relation to State supports for Aer Lingus and when appropriate I will be seeking an update on these talks.
“I am acutely aware that there are other airlines such as Ryanair and City Jet among others who have very strong bases here in Ireland their employees here require ongoing support too.
“The Airport is directly responsible for approximately 20,000 jobs with a further 115,000 indirectly. I have family members working in the Airport, who, like many others, have been impacted by the pandemic. I understand there are thousands of pilots, cabin crew, ground crew and many others who have been on reduced salaries since this pandemic began.
“In terms of wage supports, Minister Donohoe has confirmed that the legislation governing the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) allows him to extend the scheme until the end of June 2021, but that he is fully aware supports will be needed beyond that. Since the EWSS was launched by Government last August, over €1.8 billion has been spent on the scheme and I will certainly be supporting any measure brought to Cabinet to further extend it.
“The advice remains that non-essential overseas travel to and from Ireland must be avoided. The Government are putting in place new measures in terms of quarantine which will also act as a deterrent. I acknowledge these measures are not compatible with a prosperous aviation industry but they are short-term measures which we need to take as a result of the lethal spread of the pandemic and the emergence of new variants.
“These measures are blunt instruments, while it’s of little comfort to the cabin crew, pilots and staff, right now, the steps we are taking as a Government to supress the virus while we rollout the vaccine will ultimately lead to a robust recovery and the full reopening of the sector – something which we all want to see happen quickly.
“Since my election to the Dáil in 2007 I have been a strong and active supporter of Dublin Airport, our aviation sector and our national airline. This support will continue and as a Government we will do all we can to help the industry recover,” he concluded.