Questions Nos. 91 and 92 answered with Question No. 72.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (93)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

93. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport the number of persons who have completed a PCR test at each airport and port here in each of the past five months. [2561/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Government decision of 20 October affirms that any testing model implemented for international travel should not impinge on HSE testing capacity. In light of this, the State Airports have facilitated the location of private testing providers at Cork, Shannon and Dublin Airports. The testing facilities in question are open to any member of the public requesting a Covid-19 test, whether travelling or not.

Neither the State Airports nor my Department have any operational role in the provision of the testing services.

The daa facilitates two commercial companies – Randox and RocDoc - to operate separate Covid-19 testing facilities at Dublin and Cork airports. RocDoc provide services at Shannon Airport also. These testing service providers have advised daa and the Shannon Airport Authority concerning headline figures for testing to date, including pre-departures, post-arrivals tests and other non-travel tests.

There have been a total of 38,400 bookings for Covid-19 tests up to January 3rd across both service providers since testing facilities opened in November at Cork Airport and Dublin Airport. These figures relate to bookings for pre-departures, post-arrivals tests and other non-travel tests. In the region of 2,600 Covid-19 tests have been carried out by the private testing provider located at Shannon Airport up to 12 January 2021.

It should be noted that the estimated figures I have provided do not reflect the full extent of Covid-19 testing for prospective arriving (or departing) passengers, given that many other commercial providers outside of the airport’s testing facilities also provide such service.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (94)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

94. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the number of passengers who have arrived here since 9 January 2021 via sea and air whose journeys originated in the UK or South Africa; his plans to expand on advisories for passengers arriving here from states other than those mentioned; and his plans regarding inbound travel via sea and air to Ireland over the St. Patrick's Day period. [2125/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Government continues to advise against non-essential international travel and that essential travel is undertaken with due regard to public health safety measures.

In the case of Great Britain and South Africa, on the 21st December flight bans were introduced for the first time in response to the emergence of a new strain of COVID 19. This temporary 'flight ban' on flights from the UK and South Africa ended 9 of January. Since then, passengers originating from Great Britain or South Africa and arriving into Ireland have been required to have evidence of a negative or “not detected” result of a Covid-19 RT-PCR test obtained within 72 hours of arrival into Ireland.

As part of these new requirements, carriers have been requested to ensure that those passengers originating from Great Britain or South Africa travelling to Ireland are made of aware of this requirement and that they are informed they may be prosecuted and fined if they travel to Ireland without the required evidence.

Having considered the deteriorating epidemiological situation and the concern at the implications of increased transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 via the emergence of new variants, the Government has announced the extension of the requirement for evidence of a pre-departure negative/not detected RT-PCR tests to passenger arrivals from all countries since Saturday 16th January 2021, unless they are an "exempt traveller". The test must be taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. As part of the new requirements passengers will be asked to present evidence of their negative/‘not detected’ result before boarding, unless they are claiming an exemption, and will be denied boarding if they cannot produce such evidence.

Checks will be made by the Border Management Unit at Dublin Airport and by An Garda Síochána at other points of entry to the State.

Passengers who arrive in an Irish Airport or Sea Port without the required evidence will commit an offence and may be subject to prosecution, punishable by a fine not exceeding €2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

Exemptions include international transport workers -hauliers, pilots and aviation crew, masters and maritime crew, and members of An Garda Síochána in the course of their duties, Children age six and under.

In line with the EU Traffic Light system on arrival, passengers from ECDC red/grey locations and other locations will be advised to restrict their movements for 14 days, but may release themselves from the advice to restrict their movements if they have a second negative result from a RT-PCR test taken no less than 5 days post arrival. Arrivals from green and orange countries (as defined by the EU traffic light system) will not be advised to restrict their movements on arrival but are advised to adhere to the local public health guidance.

Passengers who arrive from Great Britain, South Africa or any country in South America are advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days following their arrival into Ireland. A post-arrival test for these passengers would not apply as per other red/grey regions and those passengers are advised to complete the entire 14 day period of self-isolation.

The Statistics gather weekly by my Department from the State Airports only take account of the last point of the Departure prior to arrival, as that is the only information that the Airports would receive. This level of information is not readily available for arrivals at sea ports.

However, my Department has received the following information on request from the Department of Health in relation to passengers who completed a Passenger Locator form and signified their journey had originated in Great Britain or South Africa:

Date of Arrival

Electronic PLFs

Valid Paper PLFs

Total Number of completed PLF’s

09/01/2021

681

55

736

10/01/2021

1,023

85

1168

11/01/2021

392

36

428

The Government is keeping all measures relating to international travel under review.

Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deput

under Standing Order 51

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 72.

Questions (95)

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

95. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Transport when the National Transport Authority plans to roll out new bus stop signage and timetable information in counties Limerick and Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2577/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, including the provision of bus stops and shelters.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51
Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 72.

National Car Test

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 72.

Questions (97)

Neale Richmond

Question:

97. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Transport if he has considered extending the NCT date for those who are elderly or medically vulnerable to allow them to stay at home as per level 5 guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2585/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy will be aware, on the 20 April 2020, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport at that time, Shane Ross TD, signed the Road Traffic (National Car Test) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 132/2020) into law. These Regulations provided that a 4-month extension was given to NCT test due dates under specific circumstances. This extension was given as a direct result of the suspension of the NCT roadworthiness service on 28 March 2020.

With respect to the current Level 5 restrictions, the NCT has been classified as an essential service under Part 2, Item 14(x) of the Schedule to the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 701 of 2020). This is in light of its role in protecting public safety on our roads, including the safety of essential workers. Accordingly, no additional extensions to NCT test due dates are under consideration at present.

Measures have been in place to allow elderly or vulnerable customers have someone else present the car for testing and where this is not possible customers are asked to contact the NCT directly on 01 4135992 to discuss their specific situation.

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 72.

Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deput

under Standing Order 51

Questions (99)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

99. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport if he has considered making an emergency provision for the hiring of bus drivers to fill the gaps caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on night-time and weekend bus services in order that they can continue uninterrupted for essential workers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2655/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with Bus Éireann, and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Consumer Rights

Questions (100)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

100. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport if he will review the case of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2656/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Air passenger rights are protected by EU Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, which covers the rights of passenger in instances of flight cancellations, but if a flight goes ahead and a customer either cancels or does not use their ticket, they are not entitled to a refund under EU law.

Evidently, the existing consumer protections and legal obligations on airlines and the broader travel sector did not envisage the current circumstances of mass cancellations and stringent travel restrictions due to Covid-19. However, it has been my understanding that the main airlines serving Ireland have been allowing customers to change bookings - or to claim vouchers - in circumstances where they are not due a cash refund because a flight occurred and cancelled because of travel restrictions.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation is the statutory body responsible for overseeing and enforcing the consumer rights of airline passengers. Consumers who continue to have difficulty with their airlines in securing either refunds due to them under EU law or vouchers should consult the Commission's consumer rights website www.flightrights.ie and/or contact the Commission directly with their case.

Motor Tax

Questions (101, 102)

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

101. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Transport the average wait time for a motor tax disc to be processed and sent to vehicle owners in Dublin following payment. [2746/21]

View answer

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

102. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Transport the number of staff working in the motor tax office in Dublin during the current level 5 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2747/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 102 together.

The information requested is not available in my Department.

Turnaround times and staffing levels in the Dublin motor tax office are a matter for Dublin City Council.

Dublin Bus

Questions (103)

Paul Murphy

Question:

103. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Transport if there is a plan to reduce the frequency of Dublin Bus Monday to Friday services to Saturday times. [2748/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The Covid-19 health emergency has had a significant impact on the public transport sector. We have been advised by the National Transport Authority (NTA) that since the most recent move to Level 5, they are working closely with transport operators on contingency plans to temporarily reduce public transport services. The decision of the NTA and Dublin Bus to temporarily reduce services was due to three factors:

1. There has been an increase in staff absences due to Covid-19, thereby reducing the capability to operate the full timetable;

2. The need to preserve key resources by reducing demand on essential support teams; and

3. The large reduction in passenger demand since the move to Level 5.

On Monday 18th of January, with the agreement of the NTA, Dublin Bus implemented these temporary changes and moved to a "Saturday plus" timetable. This timetable is based on the existing Saturday timetable, with some additional services offered, particularly during the morning peak hours. These changes are similar to the schedule changes that were introduced last Summer. The NTA will continue to engage with Dublin Bus and other operators over the coming weeks to ensure sufficient capacity is in place while current Level 5 restrictions remain in place.

Air Services Provision

Questions (104)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

104. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport his views on the loss of air connectivity by Ireland in the wake of Covid-19; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that services are being transferred abroad (details supplied); and the measures he will take to address the matter. [2770/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on aviation, not just in Ireland but globally. Air services around the world have been reduced significantly, and thousands of aircraft remain grounded. As an island nation, this drop in connectivity has hit Ireland especially hard. While the loss of air services is a concern it is, unfortunately, an unavoidable consequence of the public health measures that are necessary to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

I am aware of Aer Lingus's plan to begin operating air services from Manchester to the United States through a subsidiary. I do not accept that it is correct to say that services are being transferred abroad. I understand that Aer Lingus is fully committed to rebuilding services to/from Ireland when circumstances allow. The Deputy will no doubt also be aware that the Government has made provision this year's estimates for €20m to incentivise the restoration of connectivity.

Pension Provisions

Questions (105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

105. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport the reason the terms of the Irish Aviation Authority, IAA, 1996 superannuation scheme were amended in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2795/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

106. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport the reason members of the IAA 1996 superannuation scheme were not informed and given mandatory notice of the amendment to the scheme in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2796/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

107. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport the reason the 2012 amendment to the IAA 1996 superannuation scheme did not reflect the 2010 collective agreement of members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2797/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

108. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport if his Department rescinded the 2012 amendment to the IAA 1996 superannuation scheme which was initially intended to be temporary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2798/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

109. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport the reason the pension increases guaranteed under section 41(5) of the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 have not been awarded to retired Irish Aviation Authority workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2799/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

110. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport if the board of the Irish Aviation Authority had the authority to not award pension increases guaranteed under section 41(5) of the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 to retired workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2800/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

111. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport if the board of the Irish Aviation Authority had the authority to instruct trustees to make no provision for future pension increases guaranteed under section 41(5) of the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 to retired workers when determining the fund liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2801/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 to 111, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy may be aware, the design and funding of pension schemes are governed and protected by the rules and regulatory framework set out in the Pensions Acts. All such schemes in the State must conform accordingly, and employers and Pension Scheme Trustees must engage as required with the Pensions Board.

In relation to the Irish Aviation Authority, Section 41 (7) of the Irish Aviation Authority Act, 1993 provides that a dispute on superannuation benefit may be submitted to the Minister for Transport for determination by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

I can confirm that two such submissions have been made on behalf of some staff of the Irish Aviation Authority. As these appeals address the issues you have raised, and as the appeal process is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to provide any further comment at this stage.