Government says new EU air travel guidelines are in line with its response

Opening up air travel: ‘I hope it’ll be this year, but it’s certainly going to be months rather than weeks’ – Taoiseach

The Government has said that new EU guidelines on air travel in Europe as well as on the tangled question of refunds for cancelled flights are broadly in keeping with its own approach.

The EU Commission on Wednesday outlined a pathway to the restoration of mass air travel between countries that included a gradual easing that recognised measures taken by individual States.

The Commission had been urged by airlines to use a system where refundable vouchers would be used for cancelled flights rather than full refunds. However, while encouraging the use of State-guaranteed vouchers, it also said the current entitlement of passengers for a full refund should also stand.

Ireland is one of a number of countries which will insist on a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the State.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday repeated the Government’s strong advice that anybody entering the State, whether they’re an Irish citizen or not, will need to quarantine and go into self-isolation for 14 days, with the exception of certain key workers.

He also indicated that the Government would strengthen that measure over the next number of weeks (and make the quarantine period compulsory).

He said it was premature at the moment to open up air travel but said he was confident it could happen by the end of the year.

“I hope it’ll be this year, but it’s certainly going to be months rather than weeks,” he said.

“We all look forward to a time in the future when we can return to air travel. You know we’re an island nation. We’re a globalised economy,” said Mr Varadkar.

“We need to return to business and leisure travel at some point. But that really is premature at this stage, so it makes sense that the European Union and the aviation authorities are thinking about that, thinking about how we can return to safe air travel in the future. But you know that’s months rather than weeks away.”

He also said the EU guidance on vouchers and refunds reflected the current laws.

“People are entitled to a cash refund,” he said. “And if they want a cash refund they should get a cash refund.

“We do understand that we don’t want travel agents and tour operators and airlines to go bust. So they are offering people the option of a voucher which can then be redeemed for cash later.”

He said that if people availed of the vouchers, which would be State-guaranteed, it might help to save jobs in the tourism sector and in the travel sector.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times