By Cate McCurry, PA
The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association has urged the Government to end its delay in reopening international travel, and introduce rapid antigen testing for airline passengers.
It comes as hundreds of pilots staged a demonstration outside the Dáil over the Government’s “procrastination” on the reopening of international travel.
Members of IALPA handed in a four-stage plan, outlining how the aviation sector can be safely reopened.
The association, which represents more than 1,000 Irish pilots, warned that any further delay will put aviation jobs at risk.
A pilots’ group, Restore Irish Aviation, has called on the Government to introduce rapid antigen testing for travellers.
More scenes as @IALPA members call on the Irish government to implement Aviation Restart Plan. We submitted our plan to cabinet this lunchtime as our members held a protest outside. pic.twitter.com/S9gBX5qnWM
— IALPA (@IALPA) May 24, 2021
As part of its four-stage plan, the group also called for travel harmonisation between Ireland and the UK.
Pilots from Aer Lingus, Ryanair and CityJet underwent an antigen test before taking part in Monday’s demonstration.
Captain Alan Brereton, vice president of IALPA, said that everyone tested negative.
He said the Government must adopt the EU’s digital green certificate on July 1st.
“The Government is saying it wants to wait the full six weeks, but we really want to emphasise the risk of more jobs being cut,” Mr Brereton added.
“We also want every US citizen who has been vaccinated to be allowed to enter the country.
“Other countries are moving with confidence in their international travel and embracing technology.
“The key thing is rapid antigen testing.”
A report by Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland, found that the mass rollout of antigen testing could help reopen the aviation industry.
Mr Brereton has accused the Government of resisting the introduction of widespread rapid antigen testing, and instead relying on PCR tests.
“We believe they should embrace it with confidence and be proactive with these things,” he added.
“We believe antigen testing is safe but the Irish Government seems to think they know better.
@IALPA today call on Government to implement Aviation Restart Plan this week or risk putting thousands of workers permanently out of work. Read our press release here ⬇️
Read, like and retweet. pic.twitter.com/mAEdloBJC9
— IALPA (@IALPA) May 24, 2021
“They need to explain their reluctance or adopt it following advice from ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control).
“The Government can’t cherry pick EU policy and never explain why.
“About 300 members were outside the Dail and handed in the letter which lays out our plans and details.
“The EU green travel system is ready but the Irish Government is telling us that it’s delayed. People’s jobs are on the line.
“Airlines make 90% of its revenue in the months of June, July and August.”
IALPA president Evan Cullen said that freedom of movement within the EU is “an enshrined fundamental right of EU citizens”.
“The digital green certificate is a clear pathway to restore this freedom and Ireland should be a leader in this regard, not an outlier,” he said.