Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (38)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

38. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to support Cork Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25670/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I would like to thank the Deputy for his question in relation to Cork Airport. I am aware of the challenges that Cork Airport and indeed that all of our airports are currently facing and will continue to face over the coming months as the country adjusts to the new reality of living alongside Covid-19.

As the Deputy is aware, Cork Airport is an autonomous business unit within the daa. Both myself and Minister Ryan have met with the daa and have been updated on the challenges facing the daa Group, including Cork Airport. I have also recently met with the Managing Director of Cork Airport.

In order to assist businesses in facing the challenges of Covid-19 and to further protect employment, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of supports for companies of all sizes, including those in the aviation sector, which includes the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) (and its predecessor the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme), a waiver of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. The daa Group is availing of these supports which are designed to assist businesses, including our airports in terms of the management of their companies during this unprecedented time.

The Aviation Recovery Taskforce set out recommendations for consideration by Ministers and Government on what needs to be done to assist the Irish aviation sector to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The Taskforce report contains a number of recommendations on how to support Irish aviation, which has been badly affected by the huge reductions in international passengers travelling by air due to the travel restrictions which remain in place on public health grounds. The recommendations include measures to sustain the industry for so long as travel restrictions are in place and also measures to help stimulate a return to growth, when the time is right. The Government has already implemented several recommendations, including the publication of safe air travel protocols. We have progressed a European slot rule waiver for airlines in consultation with the European Commission. The wage subsidy scheme was aso extended to April 2021.

The other recommendations, including further targeted financial supports to help reinstate connectivity (including for Cork Airport), regional development and sustainability in the Sector are being examined. Work is required to develop these recommendations into effective interventions, and that work is underway by my Department. It will feed into the Government’s further plans to aid broader economic recovery, including in the aviation sector.

The Government’s recently published Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19 specifically addresses the approach to international travel and proposes that Ireland will broadly support the European Commission’s recently published proposal to promote a common approach to travel restrictions and movement within the EU/EEA. This proposal will now be considered by the Council of Ministers.

I want to assure you Deputy that my Department is in continuous contact with the daa, in terms of both Dublin and Cork airports and it is my intention that Cork Airport will be well positioned operationally to contribute to the economic recovery.