I would like to thank the Deputy for his question in relation to Shannon Airport.
In order to assist businesses in facing the challenges of Covid-19 and further protect employment, the Government has already 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), extended until April 2021, commercial rates waiver and deferred tax liabilities. As the Deputy is aware, Shannon Airport is part of Shannon Group and Shannon 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. Government has already also provided emergency funding of €6.1m to Shannon Airport to complete a vital Hold Baggage Screening project - a safety and security requirement under EU Regulations.
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 almost complete shutdown of international air travel. 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 extension of the wages subsidy scheme and publication of safe air travel protocols. We have also progressed a European slot rule waiver for airlines in consultation with the European Commission.
In relation to any future support mechanisms for the aviation sector, my Department will continue to work closely with aviation stakeholders and continue to review options in the context of the Government’s plans for international travel, having regard to the recommendations of the Aviation Taskforce.
I cannot give specific commitments at this time because any further supports that may be considered will be part of the ongoing Budget deliberations, and there are many competing demands on the public purse. However, I can assure the Deputy that the importance of these airports to the regions is well understood by Government.
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.
The Deputy will also be aware that I have committed to undertaking an examination of the future viability and sustainability of Shannon Group, and I will consider restructuring measures, financial supports and any other measures that may be necessary and appropriate as part of this wider review of Shannon Group. I will bring recommendations to Government in this regard shortly.
It is my intention that the Company, including Shannon Airport, will be well positioned for the future particularly given the importance of Shannon Airport to the economy of the Midwest region and indeed nationally.