Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and Dublin Fingal TD Darragh O'Brien, has backed proposals which would see a pathway to reopening the aviation sector established in the coming weeks.
Minister O'Brien said it was a Government priority that the sector be in a position to quickly rebound once travel restrictions were lifted.
Commenting he said: 'I strongly supported a memo by my Cabinet colleagues Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister Hildegarde Naughton which set out how over the coming weeks the Government will work with the aviation industry, through the National Civil Aviation Development Forum (NCADF), to develop a practical pathway that enables the quick restart of the aviation sector in Ireland.
'The advice remains that non-essential overseas travel to and from Ireland must be avoided.'
Minister O'Brien explained: 'This week the Government will introduce new measures in terms of mandatory hotel quarantine which will of course act as a deterrent for overseas travellers. I know these measures are not compatible with a prosperous aviation industry but they are short-term measures which we need to take to keep people safe as we accelerate the vaccination roll-out.
'When the time comes for these restrictive measures to be relaxed we need to have an aviation sector which is ready to mobilise straight away.
'While the supports provided by the Government to date, including a wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, a commercial rates waiver, deferred tax liabilities and sectoral specific supports, have gone some way to assisting the industry, there is no substitute for a thriving aviation sector.
'I am in regular contact with Minister Ryan and Minister Naughton and I understand a special meeting of the Steering Committee of the NCADF was convened earlier this month to provide an opportunity for members of the Committee, together with leaders from Irish aviation, to discuss the recovery of the sector.
'There is a broad consensus on the need to develop plans for the reopening of international travel as soon as circumstances allow - something which I, and this Government is very supportive of. I have always and continue to be a strong and ardent supporter of our aviation sector and Dublin airport in particular. Dublin airport is a major economic driver for this region and our country as a whole. It is directly responsible for approximately 20,000 jobs with a further 115,000 indirectly. I recognise that thousands of cabin crew, ground crew, pilots and many others have been on reduced salaries since this pandemic began. Like many other people they want a plan and the Government will work with the NCADF to provide one. As an island nation, connectivity to Europe and the World is imperative. Having our airport and airlines back fully operational when safe to do so will be an important driver for economic recovery,'