Ryanair has threatened to close its Cork and Shannon bases this winter if the government fails to adopt the EU travel list later this month.
The airline called on the government to adopt a new European travel list that will classify countries in terms of Covid risks from October 13.
If this does not happen, Ryanair said that it has no choice but to close its Cork and Shannon winter bases from October 26 due to what it described as the “devastating impact” of the Irish government’s “mismanagement” of air travel.
In a statement on Thursday, Ryanair said it has notified Transport Minister Eamon Ryan of its decision.
The airline claimed that Ireland has been “uniquely locked up” to air travel since July 1, compared to other EU countries.
Ryanair’s CEO Eddie Wilson said international air travel cannot be blamed for the recent spike in Covid-19 cases across Ireland.
“If the Irish Government does not fully adopt the EU travel regulations permitting unrestricted air travel to/from those regions of Europe that are Green or Amber from October 13 next, then regrettably the Cork and Shannon bases will close on October 26 and will not reopen until April 1, 2021, at the earliest,” he warned.
“Minister Ryan has failed to implement the Aviation Task Force recommendations and has failed to defend and promote the proven and safe scientific basis for the resumption of air travel to Orange and Green countries without restrictions and without compromising the containment of Covid-19 in Ireland.
“Meanwhile aviation, and Irish tourism is being vandalised by NPHET’s mismanagement and baseless unscientific travel advice which unfairly and unnecessarily locks Ireland up,” added Mr Wilson.
The closure of Ryanair’s winter base at Cork Airport would have a major impact on the airport, which has already endured a difficult financial year.
Airport management recently revealed that it expects to lose around €20m this year as passenger numbers plummeted by around 95 percent during lockdown.
Speaking earlier this week, managing director Niall MacCarthy said Ireland needs to learn to coexist with Covid-19 and “keep people in employment whilst staying safe”.
“Our economy and people can’t stay cut off from the rest of the world for that period. “Quarantines don’t work in an air travel context and people are electing not to travel when faced with a 14 day quarantine on return,” he added.
Mr MacCarthy said Cork Airport will need financial support, similar to that given to other regional airports, from the government to rebuild business at the airport.
“The return on supports to aviation are significant given the economic impact of aviation in creating and sustaining jobs throughout our supply chain, tourism, hospitality and industry,” he concluded.
Cork East TD Seán Sherlock (Lab) has called on the Minister for Transport and Taoiseach to intervene to save Ryanair slots in Cork airport and safeguard the immediate future of the airport with a stimulus package.
“The hands off approach simply won't do any more,” said Deputy Sherlock.
“The Coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party must intervene to save Cork Airport.”