A flight into Dublin from France this morning was “as good as full” with passengers looking to beat tomorrow’s mandatory hotel quarantine deadline.
The Government has said it is working to ramp up capacity in the system after a “temporary pause” in bookings was announced due to a lack of available rooms.
It has blamed the overload on an "unacceptable" number of passengers arriving into the country without booking ahead.
Boarding the last non-quarantine flight from Paris to Dublin (14/4). If I were to fly tomorrow instead I would have to spend 2 weeks quarantining in an unfit for purpose hotel and pay €2000 for the pleasure. First full flight into @DublinAirport in a long time. #restarttourism pic.twitter.com/g5aACdryAD
— Travel Media Europe (@TravelMedia_ie) April 14, 2021
Michael Collins, Managing Director of TravelMedia.ie told Newstalk reporter Kacey O'Riordan that his flight in from Paris this morning was “as good as full.”
“I flew in specifically to beat the quarantine before it comes in tomorrow morning,” he said.
“It is as good as full. I have flown this route quite a lot recently and normally it is not a busy flight in COVID times.
“But today it is full so it is pretty obvious that everybody on this flight is travelling home to beat quarantine.
“I spoke to a lot of people at check-in and everybody I spoke to had just decided to travel today. They hadn’t planned to travel today.”
"Too little too late"
He said introducing mandatory quarantine at this stage of the pandemic is “too little too late” – and noted that anyone who wants to fly here after tomorrow can simply do so through Belfast.
“Hotel quarantine made sense at the beginning of the pandemic but it doesn’t make sense now at the end of the pandemic,” he said.
“It is too little too late and it especially doesn’t make sense when we have an open border with Northern Ireland.
“If anybody wants to fly in from France tomorrow, they can fly into the North and travel straight down and avoid quarantine that way so it doesn’t make sense.”
He said he has been travelling throughout the pandemic as part of his job – and the situation in Ireland is totally different to other countries.
“Even though Ireland has been closed the rest of Europe has been open for business,” he said.
“I have travelled throughout Europe over the last nine months – through Spain, the Canary Islands, Georgia, the UK and Barbados even and there is a huge contrast between what I see here and what I see abroad.
“Ireland is closed for business and we are doing untold long-term damage to aviation, travel and tourism industry.”
Mr Collins also said the decision to foot the quarantine bill for the hundreds of Irish students who are abroad on Erasmus arrived too late.
“I spoke to two young girls this morning who are Erasmus students and they finished their Erasmus early to be home to avoid quarantine,” he said.
“Yes, the minister announced that the students would have their quarantine costs covered but it was too little too late.
“They had already booked their flights, organised their college and let their apartments go so it was just too late.”
Last November, Mr Collins took three rapid antigen tests, in three European airports in three days in a bid to prove Ireland could safely reopen for international travel.
HE said the trip proved that trip to show that Ireland was “completely out of step with the rest of Europe” on international travel.
Reporting from Kacey O'Riordan