Minister for Transport: €80 Million Will Save The Aviation Sector
Aontú Cllr Emer Tóibín has criticised the response of the Minister for Transport to a Parliamentary Question, where the Minister seems to indicate €80 million will be enough to save the Aviation Sector.
“The Aviation Sector has been amongst the hardest hit sectors of the Irish economy by Covid-19. By the very nature of the sector itself, the global pandemic has devastated its operations. Only a few weeks ago, the International Air Transport Association stated that airlines would lose a further $38 billion (€31.5 billion) in 2021, on top of the more than $118 billion lost by the sector in 2020. The DAA has said the pandemic will cost them alone €160 million even after 1,000 redundancies. The revised financial package proposed by the government wouldn’t even cover half of that. Regional Airports like Shannon which are key to their region’s economy are under threat as Airlines cut their flights in and out of these airports. Demand for new aircraft fell by more than 42% in 2020, affecting Irish suppliers of components. The Aircraft Leasing Sector alone contributes over €540 million and 5,000 jobs to the Irish economy, whilst the Aviation Sector contributes over €4 billion per annum to the Irish economy. How then is an €80 million revised financial package going to solve the crisis?”
“That is why the complete inadequacy of government supports is simply not good enough. Whilst other countries have given billions to support their aviation sectors – Ireland has given a fraction of that. The Minister has spoken with pride over the near €200 million in government supports given to the Aviation Industry since the start of the pandemic. This is the same pride shown by the government over the €55 million gifted to the tourist industry which has lost over 80% of its annual turnover, going from €7.5 billion to little over €1 billion. €55 million is little next to nothing to a sector who have lost over €6 billion in annual turnover. Similarly how can €200 million be expected to compensate for the losses of a €4 billion sector over two years? The Minister also responded that ‘Any additional supports designed to facilitate growth of air traffic can only be progressed at the appropriate time.’ With the sector on the brinks, tens of thousands of livelihoods on the line, and a key plank of the Irish economy trembling, when else is the appropriate time Minister?”
For Written Answer on : 24/02/2021
Question Number(s): 108 Question Reference(s): 9804/21
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
To ask the Minister for Transport the supports that will be put in place to protect airlines and airline workers; and if he has carried out forecasting in relation to the cost to tourism and foreign direct investment in Ireland if airlines servicing Ireland collapse.
The Government has put in place a range of supports for businesses, including those in the aviation sector. The supports include the wage subsidy scheme, waiver of commercial rates, deferral of tax liabilities, the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme, the Credit Guarantee Scheme, and the SBCI Working Capital Scheme.
As regards supports specifically targeted at the protection of employment, the Employment Wage Subsidy Schemes (EWSS) has been a key component of the Government's response to the COVID-19 crisis to support viable firms and encourage employment amid these very challenging times. The EWSS higher subsidy rate will apply until 31 March 2021. The scheme will continue during 2021 and the Government will decide on the form of its extension when economic conditions are clearer, guided by what the economy requires at that time to support the expected economic recovery.
In November, the Government also agreed a revised €80 million funding package specifically for Irish aviation in recognition of the very difficult circumstances facing the sector. My Department is currently engaging with the European Commission regarding formal approval of this package which will be implemented in line with EU State aid rules.
Any additional supports designed to facilitate growth of air traffic can only be progressed at the appropriate time, taking account of the outlook for the easing of travel restrictions and improving wider epidemiological conditions.
I will continue to monitor the financial impact of COVID-19 on the Irish aviation sector on an ongoing basis in consultation with relevant Government Ministers, including the Minister for Tourism and the Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment in relation to Tourism and FDI impacts.