Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD has called on the government and the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to bring forward proposals on how the State will assist the aviation sector; one of the industries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
His comments come as pilots at Aer Lingus have expressed their deep concern over the future of Aer Lingus within the IAG group and have warned that it may be sacrificed to keep other major airlines in the conglomerate afloat.
Teachta O’Rourke said;
“Despite being five months to the day since the first case of Covid-19 was recorded in the State, we still have no comprehensive plan for international travel or for the aviation sector.
“The government’s handling of foreign travel advice to the public has been shambolic. We are checking people’s social welfare status but not for Covid-19 in our airports. All the while, thousands of workers in the aviation industry are fearing for their positions, with the government yet to put a plan in place for the sector.
“Workers at Aer Lingus are particularly worried that IAG may sacrifice the national airline to keep other companies in the group, such as British Airways, afloat. Given that it doesn’t appear that international travel will return to normal anytime soon, these fears are legitimate and the government must act accordingly.
“Workers in Aer Lingus have been let down by successive administrations, with Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Fine Gael and Labour all party to the shameful sell-off of the national airline.
“Speaking in 2015 against the privatisation of Aer Lingus, then Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said; ‘a few short years down the line, it will be very clear to everyone that we have lost a vital aviation asset forever. We will lose certainty, connectivity and jobs. Ultimately Aer Lingus will disappear.’
“It was a stark warning at the time, which was ignored by Fine Gael and Labour, but now looks worryingly prophetic.
“We cannot afford to lose Aer Lingus. The government must listen to the legitimate concerns of pilots and staff at the airline and put a comprehensive plan in place to support the aviation sector.”