Quarantine plan would devastate aviation sector

 

Sir, – As an island nation and open economy, we are dependent on aviation as a critical artery for the life-blood of trade and tourism for our future prosperity.

Your articles “Holohan’s mandatory quarantine plan shows we are paralysed by fear” (Mark Paul, Business Opinion , May 23rd) and “Travel proposals worry Ministers” (News, May 23rd) highlight the persistent challenge we all face in balancing the economic and public health interests of everyone in this country.

The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) members are responsible for the lives of thousands of our citizens as part of our “professional contract” with the travelling public.

In the current pandemic, we are guided by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s guidelines and advice on how we can conduct flight operations as the Covid-19 pandemic is slowly brought under control.

These protocols are supported by the European Commission, which stated on May 13th that “regaining the confidence of passengers that aviation is a safe travel mode will be instrumental for exiting this crisis”.

A generalised blanket quarantine ignores the epidemiology of other member states and the guidelines from the European Union on the roadmap to relax aviation restrictions between member states.

This approach is not proportionate and discriminates against those from countries that have minimised the effect of the coronavirus and yet who must quarantine when arriving in our country.

The EU guidelines set out a comprehensive set of safety measures for aviation which include intensive cleaning and sanitisation of airports and aircraft, the wearing of masks, pre-flight screening, etc.

These measures have been adopted by Irish airports and airlines to ensure the safest possible environment for aviation.

Irish airports, Irish airlines are essential for trade and tourism. They employ huge amounts of people directly and indirectly.

While other EU member states carefully and sensibly relax restrictions on passengers who fly, Ireland is considering a policy which is not based on EU aviation guidelines, the epidemiology or coordination with other countries.

The adoption of generalised quarantine measures would have a devastating effect on aviation, trade and tourism in Ireland and would ensure negligible passenger demand, and deserted airports with airlines not flying into and out of the island. – Yours, etc,

Capt EVAN CULLEN,

President,

Irish Air Line

Pilots’ Association,

Woodford Business Park,

Santry,

Dublin 17.