Aviation body says quarantine should be replaced by testing and proof of vaccination

Aviation forum warns of permanent damage as it publishes plan to restart the industry

Passengers entering quarantine at a Dublin  this month. The National Civil Aviation Development Forum says any requirement for quarantine should be proportionate and based on transparent and objective criteria. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Passengers entering quarantine at a Dublin this month. The National Civil Aviation Development Forum says any requirement for quarantine should be proportionate and based on transparent and objective criteria. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Government should axe controversial hotel Covid quarantines for travellers in favour of virus tests and vaccination proofs to restart aviation, the industry said on Thursday.

The National Civil Aviation Development Forum (NCADF) published details of a plan to restart the industry, responsible for up 140,000 jobs before the pandemic struck.

The organisation wants the Government to ditch its 14-day hotel quarantines and reintroduce the EU’s travel traffic-light system which grades regions according to their infection risk and favours pre- and post-arrival testing.

“Having due regard to the relevance of proof of vaccination, existing testing requirements and EU rules on free movement of persons, any requirement for quarantine should be proportionate and based on transparent and objective criteria,” the forum’s plan states.

The forum argues that extending the mandatory hotel quarantine rule to passengers from EU member states and the US raises fears about the long-term impact of this on travel between those destinations and the Republic.

“Measures of this nature go far beyond those imposed by other EU member states, and would be contrary to the principles set out in the EU traffic-light system,” its plan says.

The revised traffic-light system ranks regions as dark red, for the highest infection risk, then red, orange and finally green for those with the lowest virus rates.

Those from green areas should be allowed into the State with no restriction, while travellers from orange areas should just need negative pre-departure tests.

Passengers from red and dark red zones should get pre-departure tests, be subject to 14 days’ home quarantine from which they should be released if they get a negative test within five days.

The report warns that the Republic cannot function as a closed economy without suffering permanent damage.

It points out that aviation, responsible for 90 per cent of arrivals into the State, cannot begin recovering until the ban on non-essential travel is lifted.

Conditions

The NCADF calls on the Government to confirm the conditions that will allow the ban to be lifted and the restoration of travel to destinations that meet those conditions.

Donal Moriarty, chief corporate affairs officer of Aer Lingus, argued that it was “critically important” for the Government to take the steps needed to implement the plan.

Aer Lingus and rival Ryanair are members of the forum, along with State airport companies DAA and Shannon Group, and employers’ body Ibec.

Transport ministers Eamon Ryan and Hildegarde Naughton met the forum’s steering committee last month, when it was agreed that Government and the industry should work on ending Covid curbs to restore foreign travel.

NCDAF said it looked forward to the Government taking the steps needed to implement the plan.

A statement issued with the plan pointed out that air travel needs time to plan ahead, so the Government should take tangible steps to enable the industry prepare for the return of foreign travel. “Including for the removal of the ban on all non-essential international travel and any requirement for hotel quarantine,” the forum added.