The Government has announced the formation of a task force to secure the recovery of the aviation sector, which it says is vital to the State and the economy’s recovery as a whole.
The sector has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic with almost all traffic grounded amid fears it will take years to return to previous levels.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross announced on Wednesday that the task force is to be charged with "advising on the framework for restarting aviation" when the public health crisis has passed.
Key stakeholders from the industry will be appointed to the body next week, and it will subsequently report to the Government within another four weeks.
“Ireland has historically had a huge dependence on aviation,” said Mr Ross. “As an island economy built largely on international trade and foreign direct investment, aviation is the lifeline that connects us to the global economy.
“We do not have the advantage of international road and rail connections that that predominate for other countries to support the international movement of people be it for business, tourism or social purposes.
“The process of economic recovery as we emerge from this crisis will depend on the recovery of the aviation sector.”
In addition to the task force, Mr Ross said the Department of Transport would progress the development of an Aviation Recovery Plan through a number of inter-related strands of work.
“Firstly, we are looking to the experience of other countries in opening borders and monitor the effectiveness of measures to control any resumption of Covid-19 growth,” he said.
“We will consider how a phased approach to reopening might developed based on the criteria outlined by the European Commission as a basis for an aligned European approach.
“Secondly, in consultation with the National Facilitation Committee, my department and the Department of Health will agree the new protocols that should be applied to promote health and virus control in the aviation journey.
“Thirdly, we will continue a close bilateral engagement with both State-owned and non-State owned parts of the industry that are critical to future connectivity with regard to capability and readiness to resume operations.”
Mr Ross added that his department would liaise with the Department of Public Expenditure on what support measures, if any, beyond the supports already adopted, may be necessary.
These, he said, would “facilitate the rapid return of a strong aviation industry that can, in turn, support the wider economy through the recovery phase”.