New travel rules ‘ineffective and inappropriate gobbledygook’, says Ryanair

Airline launches attack on new testing system and calls for simple, effective measures

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary immediately condemned the measures in a critique which also referred to ‘Nphet nonsense’ which it said had been imposed unnecessarily and ‘without consultation’. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary immediately condemned the measures in a critique which also referred to ‘Nphet nonsense’ which it said had been imposed unnecessarily and ‘without consultation’. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty

 

Ryanair has criticised the State’s new travel restrictions, describing them as “ineffective and inappropriate gobbledygook” in a statement.

On Tuesday the Cabinet agreed all people arriving into the State – whether vaccinated or not – will need a clear Covid test result from Friday onwards. Those travelling with an antigen test result will need to have obtained it within 48 hours of departure, and it will have to be professionally administered. Those with a PCR test result will have a longer pre-travel window of 72 hours.

However Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary immediately condemned the measures in a critique which also referred to “Nphet nonsense” which it said had been imposed unnecessarily and “without consultation”.

As Europe’s largest airline, Ryanair stands to be adversely affected by any additional restrictions or requirements which may put people off travelling.

The airline said intra-EU air travel has taken place “safely since 1 July thanks to the EU Digital Covid Cert (DCC) with all passengers providing either proof of vaccination (the DCC) or a negative PCR test”.

It asked why “when Nphet and the chief medical officer have opposed antigen tests for 18 months”, are they now required, especially in the case of vaccinated passengers”.

Ryanair also asked why “when over 90 per cent of Irish adults are vaccinated”, do they “now have to produce a negative antigen test instead of vax certification to travel out and home to Ireland”.

The airline also highlighted difficulties in asking either airlines or border forces to determine “what a ‘professionally done’ antigen test looks like if it is in Polish, Croatian, Slovakian, or any other foreign language”.

It also questioned the effectiveness of a negative antigen test if taken within 48 hours prior to arrival in Ireland, and “why are vaccinated passengers arriving from the UK now required to provide negative antigen tests, yet non-vaccinated people can travel across the Northern Ireland border without vaccinations or any such antigen/PCR tests. The situation “is yet another Nphet ‘travel policy’ farce” the airline said.

Mr O’Leary said: “As an Island on the periphery of Europe, Ireland needs simple, but effective health measures for international travel.”

He said Tuesday’s announcements were “the latest example of Nphet and the chief medical officer – the people who originally opposed face masks, track and tracing, and antigen testing – making it up as they go along”.

He said both the EU and the European Centre for Disease Control have already introduced a successful EU vaccination certificate, which has allowed safe international intra-EU air travel.

Ryanair called on the Government to abandon this latest policy change and “return to a simple, and readily understood system, followed by most of the rest of the EU, which protects free movement of EU citizens, subject only to production of an EU DCC or a negative PCR test.”

However Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly later described Mr O’Leary and Ryanair’s comments as “quite odd”. Mr Donnelly said the airline implemented the travel restrictions in other countries “all over the world.”

Asked on RTE’s Prime Time news programme if he was aware of the criticism from Ryanair he said: “The question I would ask Ryanair is how are they implementing this policy because they are doing it every day for countries all over the world so their comments in terms of Ireland are very odd.”