Ryanair has threatened to close two of its Irish bases as soon as 26 October should the Irish government not adopt the EU’s ‘traffic light’ system for international travel.
The airline has warned the Irish Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan that it will temporarily close its bases in Cork and Shannon for the winter from 26 October until at least April 2021, placing hundreds of more jobs at risk.
The Irish low-cost carrier has accused the Irish government of keeping the country uniquely “locked up” in its attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, by limiting travel between EU countries since July, a route that few other EU countries have decided to take.
Now, Ryanair is calling for the government to adopt the new EU ‘traffic light’ system, which allows for travel to and from certain countries that have been labelled as “green” or “orange”.
The airline has given the government until 13 October to adopt and finalise the system before it will “regrettably” close down the Cork and Shannon bases for at least six months.
Closing its bases in Shannon and Cork would threaten the jobs of 130 pilots and cabin crew directly employed by the airline, plus airport, ground services, and other staff that are indirectly linked to operations at those bases.
Ryanair currently services 23 destinations from Cork and 13 from Shannon.
“Minister Ryan has failed to implement the Aviation Task Force recommendations and has failed to defend and promote the proven and safe scientific basis for the resumption of air travel to Orange and Green countries without restrictions and without compromising the containment of C19 in Ireland,” Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said in a statement.
“Meanwhile aviation and Irish tourism is being vandalised by NPHET’s mismanagement and baseless unscientific travel advice, which unfairly and unnecessarily locks Ireland up.”
Ryanair said it does accept that some quarantine restrictions may be necessary for regions designated Red by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, yet stands by its position that lockdown measures are not realistic.
“While NPHET and the Irish Govt have mismanaged air travel by keeping Ireland locked up since [around] July, Ireland’s Covid case rate has dramatically increased to over 88.8 per 100,000 population in the last 14 days and international air travel cannot be blamed for this increase,” said Wilson.
“The WHO has rejected lockdowns as ineffective because they don’t kill the virus, they simply store it.
“Ryanair returned to flying on July 1 with extensive health measures in place including mandatory use of face masks, an issue that was criticised by NPHET members, only for NPHET to finally adopt mandatory face masks from 10 Aug onwards.”