During the Covid crisis the aviation sector has benefited considerably from the suite of measures to support businesses across the economy, including but not limited to, a wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, a commercial rates waiver, deferred tax liabilities and the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme. It is estimated that Irish airports and airlines will have received approximately €440 million under these measures by the end of 2021.
Government recognises that Aviation makes significant direct and indirect contributions in the regions, providing for high quality jobs within the aviation sector as well as through the various ancillary services that are provided to airports, the airlines, and in the local economy.
Given this, in addition to these horizontal supports, over €165 million in aviation specific supports will have been allocated to Irish Airports this year, including PSO air services, by the end of 2021. €21.3 million was made available to Donegal, Ireland West and Kerry Airports under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025. A further €32.1 million was made available to Cork and Shannon Airports under a bespoke COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme in 2021. This investment in our regional airports will ensure airport compliance with EU safety and security related obligations. The PSO Air Service between Donegal and Dublin and Kerry to Dublin (until Ryanair began operating the Kerry route in July) was also supported by Exchequer funding
Furthermore, it was recognised in the National Economic Recovery Plan that additional support may be required to support the aviation sector’s recovery as European and international air transport resumed. Given this, by end 2021 a further €116 million will have been distributed under a Covid Supplementary Support Scheme to our airports. Funding under this Scheme will compensate our smaller regional airports for the damage caused to them by Covid, as well as providing our State airports with flexibility to roll out route incentives/charge rebates with a view to supporting recovery and growth of connectivity.
In 2022, funding of €36 million will be provided by Government under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025, supporting regional airports of Shannon, Cork, Ireland West, Donegal and Kerry. This budget allocation represents a significant increase in funding available under the Programme in 2022 which takes account of the broadening of the Programme to include Shannon and Cork Airports.
Government is fully cognisant of the ongoing and deep impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector. This level of funding provided to date, clearly demonstrates Government’s commitment to this sector and to those whose livelihoods have been so negatively impacted by this crisis. As was the case in 2021, Government will continue to keep Aviation Supports under review in 2022.