RECOMMENDATIONS for rapid low-cost pre-departure testing for air passengers have been welcomed by Cork Airport, where management are hoping a recovery will begin in the coming months.
The testing was one of 20 recommendations in the aviation report released yesterday by the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks.
Others are to agree a Covid test system with the US and Canada, allowing Irish citizens travel to and from both without restricting movements, and a recommendation Government adopt a traffic light system for countries outside the EU.
“We particularly welcome the recommendations on the acceleration of validation studies on rapid, low-cost, scalable pre-departure testing and in particular rapid antigen testing,” said Cork Airport managing director, Niall MacCarthy.
“We are already planning for the recovery of aviation which may take three to four years but we anticipate will start in March/April 2021.
“We particularly endorse the recommendation that the airport charges rebate scheme be extended to September 2021 or perhaps even further. This will allow airports and airlines the economic space to plan the reintroduction of routes for summer 2021 and kick start the recovery of the tourism and hospitality industries.”
Fórsa trade union, which represents several thousand aviation workers, also welcomed specific recommendations included in the report, which is to go to Government for further consideration.
Fórsa reiterated its call for a “joined-up” approach by the Government to ensure the survival of Ireland’s aviation industry. “The recommendations demand some heavy lifting by the Government, with no room for half-measures or oversights on specific policy issues,” Fórsa spokesperson Ashley Connolly said. “Working together through a social dialogue model would ensure that all the available expertise and stakeholder knowledge about how to protect our aviation infrastructure is employed in the process of delivering on these recommendations.”
Senator Jerry Buttimer, a member of the transport committee, was pleased with the recommendations and said it was clear Cork Airport was critical for the regrowth of the south in a post-Covid world.
“Airport testing is critical and it’s imperative that there is comprehensive testing available. After a comprehensive set of hearings, pre-departure testing needs to be in place in advance of the Christmas period.
“This report is a road map to assist Government to ensure that all sections of the aviation sector is able to reboot, recover and sustain jobs and livelihoods. Unlike other sectors, aviation will require long term supports as passenger numbers and business has been decimated.“