Restart plan needed if air travel to recover from Covid hit, says aviation regulator

Recently-appointed Aviation Regulator Diarmuid Ó Conghaile warns that air travel can not simply be switched off and on

A lone passenger and a DAA staff member pictured at Dublin Airport last July. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

A lone passenger and a DAA staff member pictured at Dublin Airport last July. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

Air travel needs a restart plan to aid its recovery from the “extreme distress” caused by Covid-19 restrictions, according to recently-appointed Aviation Regulator, Diarmuid Ó Conghaile.

In one of his first public addresses since his appointment, Mr Ó Conghaile, Aviation Regulator and chief executive designate of the Irish Aviation Authority, warned students that the Republic could not take its strong air travel industry for granted.

“Right now, the national focus is on pandemic containment, as it should be; but we must also start planning for the recovery of aviation,” he said.

Mr Ó Conghaile told the annual Irish Aviation Students’ Association symposium that the industry could not simply be switched off and on. It will take time to step up activity, he said.

Restart plan

As part of any restart plan, he argued the Republic should resume using the recently updated EU traffic light system, which grades regions on their level of infection risk, along with testing and quarantine systems consistent with that system.

Other measures should include exemptions from testing and quarantine for those with proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 and the use of rapid testing alongside the PCR system.

Mr Ó Conghaile also said that there should be confirmation of the different stages of any vaccination programme at which people could begin non-essential travel.