5.00pm – The Department of Transport has also responded to Ryanair’s decision to temporarily cease services.
A spokesperson said: “The latest decision by Ryanair to withdraw its services from regional airports for a period from November to mid-December is a commercial one and it is understood to be part of a wider move by the company to cut its capacity right across Europe over the winter season. This development is not entirely unexpected, given the low booking rates to the end of this year.
There is no doubt that the challenges being faced by airlines and the aviation industry as a whole are immense and the Irish Government remains committed to the survival and recovery of this sector when appropriate. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a comprehensive suite of generalised supports for all companies have been put in place. These include wage subsidy schemes, grants, low-cost loans, waiver of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. Ireland’s airports and airlines will continue to receive the wide range of supports available through these measures.”
“As already indicated, the Government is currently seeking to strike an appropriate balance between protecting public health and allowing air travel to take place. It is aligning with the European “traffic light” system in relation to green, orange and red regions and will announce additional measures relating to testing when the operational arrangements are finalised in the coming weeks. With Ireland currently at level 5 of the Living with Covid Plan, it is has been made clear that there should be no non- essential travel of any kind within or outside of Ireland. The focus is on fighting the virus, and any arriving passengers must comply with Level 5 public health measures.
It is acknowledged that this does have negative implications for all aviation stakeholders and notably the airports and airlines. In Budget 2021 the Government made provision for €10m for Cork and Shannon airports while confirming a commitment of €21m to the continuation of the Regional Airports Programme to support Knock, Kerry and Donegal airports.
In addition, in the context of the forthcoming National economic Plan, the Government will consider further measures to support the industry to ensure that the core capability of the industry is preserved so that it can recover quickly to support the wider economic recovery when circumstances allow,” the statement added.
2.55pm – In a statement this afternoon, Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine, has called for an urgent financial lifeline for Shannon Airport and a support package for the aviation sector in the National Economic Plan to be announced next month.
“Extremely disappointing” is how Ms. Considine described the announcement by Ryanair to temporarily halt all of its flights from Shannon and Cork from November 14th to December 12th as a result of a collapse in forward bookings in light of COVID-19 Level 5 restrictions. This latest development comes less than two weeks after the airline announced it would temporarily close its Cork and Shannon hubs for winter.
“We are extremely disappointed with the news; it is a further illustration of the devastating impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector. This latest development effectively means we will have no scheduled services at Shannon for a month.
“As an Island nation, aviation is a crucial part of our economy and therefore our economic recovery. The industry is in a crisis not witnessed in our lifetime. If it is to revive and recover, the aviation sector needs a financial lifeline to resuscitate it. The National Economic Plan is due to be published next month and we would hope that it will provide the vital financial support for this ailing sector.
“In the absence of a vaccine, the new European Traffic Light system, presents a glimmer of hope, supported by common approach to testing. Once testing protocols are agreed we will be ready to roll out testing at the airport and believe it will be an important element in restoring public confidence to travel again.” says Ms. Considine
Shannon Airport will remain open to service cargo, general aviation, transit business and to facilitate hangar movements.
1.05pm – Speculation that Ryanair will temporarily drop its Shannon services next month has been confirmed this afternoon.
Airline CEO Eddie Wilson told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks that Ryanair will not operate flights to or from Shannon Airport between the 14th of November and the 12th of December.
Mr Wilson has also accused NPHET of getting it wrong on international travel adding that “strangulation” of the aviation sector is continuing.
He added that the government’s Green List has been a disaster and reiterated calls for the government here to implement the EU traffic light system immediately.
It’s understood that the government is aiming to adopt the proposed EU-wide system by the 8th of November and Ryanair says they will take that into consideration if and when that does happen.
Mr Wilson also said that Ireland had cut itself off from the EU, adding that people in Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium and Spain can travel anywhere within the EU. He also told the committee that there’s no data to suggest air travel is not safe.
Mr Wilson also said the closure of the airline’s bases at Cork and Shannon could have been minimised and said the question now is whether they will reopen.
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus chief corporate affairs officer Donal Moriarty, who was recently named as the airline’s interim CEO, said “it is clear from the evidence that international travel is not a vector for Covid-19.”
Also appearing before the committee today, he said that any pre-departure testing of passengers would have to be rapid and affordable. Mr Moriarty added that only a fast antigen test will facilitate a meaningful increase in safe international travel.
He pointed out to the committee that several airports in Europe are introducing antigen tests and it is clear they are becoming prevalent in a solution for facilitating international travel.
Earlier: Ryanair is set to temporarily cease operations at Shannon having already cut flights by half.
The low-cost carrier confirmed earlier this month that a revision of its winter schedule would see the closure of the airline’s bases at Shannon and Cork for the winter months.
While the base closure has impacted the number of routes Ryanair can operate to/from Shannon Ryanair said it would continue to operate services from Shannon. Aircraft required to fly routes that will continue to operate, have been flown in from other airports.
Now however, having cut 8 of the airlines 16 services at Shannon, Ryanair is set to drop the remaining flights for several weeks from next month.
It’s expected however that the airline could resume operations in early December for a few weeks but there’s speculation services will cease again in early January.
The airline had warned that bookings for November and December had dropped off significantly
Earlier this month, Ryanair said: “Due to increased flight restrictions imposed by EU governments, air travel to/from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal have been heavily curtailed. This has caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in October, but materially in November and December.”
Now, according to sources, Ryanair will temporarily cease operations between November 14th and December 12th before dropping flights again on January 1st.