Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.38 3 May 2021


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A 'nervous' Irish Government is likely to be slower to introduce a travel green cert than other European countries, travel journalist Eoghan Corry says.

However, he says airlines have largely kept their summer schedules intact - so they'll be ready to go once they get the 'green light'.

Ministers here have been reluctant to give an exact date for the return of foreign travel, although they have indicated it's likely to happen "later in the summer".

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Meanwhile, plans for a so-called digital green cert to facilitate travel between EU countries have now been passed by the European Parliament.

The digital pass would show whether someone's been fully vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus.

Plans for the 'COVID passport' will now be finalised by leaders of the member states, with individual countries expected to have six weeks to implement the final proposals.

Countries such as Spain and Greece have been particularly keen to have the new rules introduced quickly, to ensure they can have some form of a summer tourism season.

Travel agents here, however, are not expecting foreign travel and holidays to ramp up until the end of August.

Mr Corry - editor of Air and Travel Magazine - spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the plans for the green cert.

'Nervous' Irish Government may be slower to reopen travel than other EU countries - Eoghan Corry

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He said: “Nothing moves quickly in the European Commission… but this moved quickly.

“We will see great enthusiasm from southern Europe, but it does appear Ireland will be one of the slower ones to move on this.

“We have a Government where everyone is looking over each other’s shoulders - a very conservative NPHET, and a very nervous Government."

He said airlines have invested heavily to get themselves ready for such a system - as they want to support anything that will get people moving again.

Mr Corry says the decline in air traffic has been a 'horror show' across Europe - but the impact in Ireland has been even more pronounced than elsewhere.

However, he observed: "The aviation industry has held its shape - it has kept the schedules in place. The temptation was there for airlines like Aer Lingus and Ryanair… to move the assets off the island… neither of them have done it.

“The summer schedule and frequency are still in place. In a big surprise, we have four routes we didn’t have in 2019 planned. The start date has been postponed, but it’s all there for when the green light goes on."

"People need dates"

Also speaking to the show, CityJet CEO Pat Byrne said the airline industry has faced a "devastating silence" from Government.

He said: “I think the treatment by Government of the aviation sector has been incredibly poor… we really have become an absolute outlier, almost like a marooned raft in the Atlantic.

“There’s been an incredibly negative attitude towards the aviation sector, and I think we’ve been taken completely for granted."

Mr Byrne said he's not confident the green cert will be implemented here promptly - and believes people now need definitive dates so they can start planning.

He said: “It’s all ‘we might’ and ‘we may’ and ‘we have to wait and see’.

"People need certainty and they need to be given dates so they can plan.”

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

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