Ireland is currently 'bottom of the pile' when it comes to aviation, the head of Europe's air traffic management agency says.
Around 18,000 European flights were recorded by Eurocontrol yesterday - down around 48% of what would be seen during a normal summer.
However, Irish traffic is still down by around three quarters.
Eamonn Brennan - CEO of European’s air traffic control management agency Eurocontrol - spoke to Breakfast Business about the current situation.
He said: “[Traffic is] recovering in Europe every single day, but Ireland was very much an outlier with -75%.
"It’s actually bottom of the pile aviation-wise in Europe at the moment, which is amazing for an island nation.
"Normally, we’re close to the top of the pile.”
He said there is more travel as vaccines roll out and COVID-19 rates decrease.
However, he said Ireland's "very conservative" approach will have knock-on effects on businesses other than the airlines themselves - including maintenance firms.
He said: “If aircraft aren’t flying, they’re not being maintained. There’s no requirement for landing gear maintenance, airframe maintenance, avionics…
“It’s important to realise more than Stobart and other airlines will start suffering now, as it starts going down into the value chain… some of these companies have had no work for 18 months now, and the level of support has just been the normal state bailout scheme."
He said there've been "big bailouts" for some other airlines in Europe, including Lufthansa in Germany.
Eurocontrol is predicting an uneven recovery for aviation, amid significant differences in the speed of vaccine rollouts globally.
While short-haul airlines like Ryanair can ramp up capacity and operations quickly - within just two to three weeks - there are more challenges for long-haul flights.
Mr Brennan explained: “We’re not predicting that Asia-Pacific travel will resume anywhere significantly until at least November.
“For Australia, we’re not looking at anything until quarter one until 2022.”
In Europe, Eurocontrol is expecting traffic to return to 55-60% of 2019 levels by August, rising further to 65-70% by October.
However, the firm doesn’t think North Atlantic routes will resuming operating “in any significant fashion” until mid to late August.
It means airlines such as Ryanair are likely to make a strong recovery this year, but there’ll be a slower return to normality for the likes of Aer Lingus.
Mr Brennan said he is optimistic about the recovery of flights in Europe, but it'll be vital for countries to adopt the new EU digital green cert system.