I endorse Deputy Carey's proposal regarding the future of our aviation sector and industry. This committee has worked collectively to support this sector during Covid-19. Given the difficulties and issues facing the sector now, it is important that the future of our national aviation policy is reflected upon and changed.
I voice my disappointment and annoyance at the decision of representatives of Aer Lingus not to come before us next week. It is incredible in the context of an airline that was responsible last week alone for the cancellation of approximately 100 flights from Dublin Airport.
The vast majority - 70% - of the cancelled flights from Dublin Airport were Aer Lingus flights. It is unacceptable that we are held in such contempt by the airline, given the substantial payment provided to it during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I received an email at 8.12 a.m. and the heading on it is "Another wonderful move by Aer Lingus". I want to read it into the record, although I will not name the sender. It states:
Yesterday July 12th, Flight EI 107 from DUBlin to JFK New York was cancelled.
We sat on the runway for nearly 3 hours and then were summarily told to get off, find our own accommodation and wait for an email from Aer Lingus for further information.
Getting off the plane we were met with a skeleton crew who had no concrete or usable information.
As I booked my flight through Expedia.. I contacted them for updates.
It’s now 8.04am on Wednesday morning. Aer Lingus still has not updated their systems with Expedia to reflect the cancellation.
Incompetence, arrogance and lack of concern for their passengers has been one reason I never fly Aer Lingus. I now add criminally understaffed.
They’ve had 2 years plus to boost and train staffing as they know that Covid is going to be a recurring issue. This should not be a huge surprise to them.
I made the mistake of giving them another chance. That will never happen again.
And while they’re at it… they might get someone to clean the bathrooms. And pick up the rubbish. [That is a different matter]
Yours, from the Travelodge in Swords ...
This is one example given by a person I have never spoken to earlier this morning. The attitude of the airline is unacceptable. The behaviour of management towards us and, more importantly, the travelling public is completely unacceptable. We have an obligation on behalf of the travelling public to hold Aer Lingus to account. The airline is responsible for a huge proportion of the transatlantic flights coming into and going out of Ireland. In that context, it is important that we hold it to account. The August bank holiday weekend is coming up. It is probably going to be the second-busiest weekend of the summer. In terms of the number of passengers who have been discommoded or left unable to travel, what Aer Lingus has done is worse than the meltdown we saw with the Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, in the third week of May. What is equally bad is the reputational damage done to our country in terms of how tourists and people coming here see, regardless of whether it is their first or last experience of Ireland, what is happening. It is not good enough. I ask the Chair to have the secretariat invite representatives of Aer Lingus to come before the committee to appear before us next week, the week after or at some point prior to the summer recess. It is not good enough to say that they will come before us in the autumn or at some later date. I want them to come in before the August bank holiday weekend.