Air travel safety watchdog, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), expects Covid-19 to make a sharp dent in its €200 million a-year revenues.
The State body confirmed on Tuesday that it is maintaining its air traffic control and air navigation services to facilitate whatever flights are left as airlines ground passenger flights in the effort to halt the coronavirus pandemic.
As airlines fund the IAA, the regulator expects a “significant drop in revenue for March and April and potentially longer” depending on how long the crisis lasts.
In 2018, the last year for which figures are available, the authority earned revenues of €199 million and a profit of almost €31.6 million from providing its services to airlines.
“Like all businesses in this situation, we will have to manage this cash-flow deficit in a prudent manner,” the IAA said.
A fall in revenue and profit could also hit the Exchequer as the IAA paid a €19.5 million dividend to the State from its 2018 profit. The authority normally publishes its annual accounts in April.
While the Government is considering a shake-up of the regime, the IAA governs safety, air traffic control, navigation through Irish air space and jointly with its British equivalent, over a large area of the north Atlantic.
It charges airlines for these services. That includes international carriers flying between Europe and North America. The Republic's air space includes many of the routes between the two continents.
The IAA said on Tuesday that air navigation and traffic management services were a key part of getting supplies into the Republic.
The body added that it had contingency plans to ensure these services continued. Cargo flights are continuing to ensure essential supplies get to the Republic.
“This includes dividing up core team to minimise risks of infection and ensuring that all IAA operational sites are fully locked down to external visitors,” the authority said.
The authority added that it was working with the Government and Health Services Executive to ensure that it took appropriate steps to allow staff to maintain services should a significant number not be available for work.
Another State body, the Commission for Aviation Regulation, supervises consumer rights, travel agents, tour operators and sets the passenger charges that Dublin Airport levies on airlines.