Covid-19 is having a “severe impact” on the Irish Aviation Authority’s (IAA) €200 million a year revenues, the air travel safety watchdog has confirmed.
The IAA, funded by the airlines that use its air traffic control and safety services, has agreed with its unions that it will pay staff their full salaries until the end of May.
The authority confirmed that “revenues are severely impacted by the significant downturn in traffic as a result of Covid-19”.
IAA staff continue to work to ensure that cargo supplies can land in the Republic during the crisis. However, virtually all air travel has halted in the face of restrictions aimed at containing coronavirus.
“The company has put in place cost-containment measures which minimise the impact at this time on staff,” the IAA said in a statement.
It added that the regular talks continued with workers and unions to keep them informed of the situation. “The current measures are in place until the end of May,” the IAA added.
Trade union Fórsa, which represents workers at the IAA, told members recently that the authority had agreed with its panel of unions that it would not take steps to cut costs during that time. “If any measures are required thereafter it will be by consultation and agreement with unions,” Fórsa said.
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.
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.
However, the Irish and global airlines from which the IAA normally earns these revenues are largely grounded, with passenger services cut to a bare minimum. Aer Lingus and Ryanair have suspended more than 90 per cent of their operations for April and May.
The IAA acknowledged the dedication of its workers who were keeping routes open to allow supplies, including food and medicine, to continue to land in the Republic. “We continue to offer a full service to airlines,” said the authority.