Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.55 28 May 2021


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Some long-haul air routes from Ireland could take up to five years to recover.

That is according to Paul O'Kane, chief communications officer at the daa - which runs Dublin and Cork Airports.

He was speaking as the Government announced plans to resume international travel on July 19th.

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Mr O'Kane told The Hard Shoulder travel is about much more than 'sun holidays'.

"We've been calling for a roadmap for the re-opening of international travel for quite a while, as other people in the industry have been also.

"It's very positive that we now have this date of July 19th."

He also said there has been a misconception of travel during the pandemic.

"There's sometimes a kind of a misconception about travel that it's all about sun holidays.

"But it's as much about sun holidays as it is about sons being reunited with their mothers.

"It's about people seeing each other for the first time; people haven't seen grandchildren, they haven't seen new nieces, new nephews.

"In a lot of the focus people talk about 'Oh may be they haven't been able to see each other in 14 months' - that's actually the best case scenario."

'We've lost the most connectivity'

Focusing on the Diaspora living abroad, he said: "Someone possibly decided not to go home in the Christmas before the pandemic, it could possibly be two or more years by the time people will actually see each other.

"There's quite often a big focus on Irish people going on holidays - travel is about so much more than that.

"It's about whether or not the country is open; we have one of the most open economies in the world.

"We've an economy which is entirely dependent on Foreign Direct Investment , on exports and trade - and on tourism, tourism is a huge industry in this country, and often doesn't get the credit that it deserves".

Here are the key dates for Ireland's re-opening

He said figures from Eurocontrol show Ireland has taken the largest hit on flights.

"In the past week, flights to and from Ireland were down 83% compared to 2019.

"Whereas the European average across all of those other European countries was 60%.

"So we're the country that's lost the most connectivity compared to our European peers."

Mr O'Kane predicted it will take a while for routes to return, particularly long-haul ones which could take "four or five years" to recover.

But he said short-haul routes "will come back very quickly".

Main image: People hug at Madrid's Barajas Airport in Spain, the first day after it ended its state of COVID alarm in June 2020. Picture by: Juan Carlos Rojas/DPA/PA Images

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Air Travel DAA Dublin Airport Economy Flights International Travel Paul O’Kane The Hard Shoulder

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