Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (17)

Louise O'Reilly


17. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Transport if he will bring forward sectoral specific legislation or measures to protect jobs in the aviation sector. [15878/20]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I wish to thank the Deputy for her question. I appreciate that the challenges facing Irish aviation are having a real impact on many of her constituents, given the employment in North Dublin, especially, provided by Dublin Airport and by all of the ancillary businesses serving the airport.

Ireland’s long term economic wellbeing is closely linked to our global connectivity. Being an island nation, aviation plays a key role in this connectivity, and it will be an important part of our economic recovery from this crisis. While Covid-19 has impacted many parts of our economy and society, it is clear that the aviation sector has been particularly severely affected.

It has not been easy for the sector to see demand depressed for so long a period. I accept that there is a desire within the industry to stimulate a recovery and to allow it to trade itself back into financial health. However, we must also accept that we are in an unprecedented environment, with a good deal of uncertainty still surrounding the future. As the current resurgence of Covid cases within Ireland and throughout Europe shows, as much as we all want to return to life as normal that choice is not open to us at this moment.

The Government understands fully the role that aviation plays in terms of its contribution to GDP, FDI and job creation. Measures have already been implemented to provide it with support: the wage subsidy scheme, continued alleviation of commercial rates, tax claw back measures, and the offer of liquidity support, which is available to the aviation sector through the Government’s €2 billion ISIF Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund.

There is a case to be made for further sector specific measures. This is because clearly in trying to limit the level of international travel to essential travel only, aviation is not being given a real chance to recover. I can advise the Deputy that such measures are being considered, and the recommendations of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce - which reported in July - are part of that. I cannot give specific commitments at this time because it is part of the ongoing Budget deliberations, and there are many competing demands on the public purse, especially from the health sector. However, I can assure the Deputy that the importance of the aviation industry is well understood and that the Government will do all that it can to support it through the very difficult period ahead.