The Government has agreed a revised €80 million funding package for Irish aviation “in recognition of the very difficult winter season”.
The funding adds an extra €48 million in operational and capital supports for 2021 in addition to those announced in the budget, the Department of Transport said on Tuesday.
Further supports of €22 million have been announced for Cork and Shannon Airport, in addition to €10 million in capital funding announced in Budget 2021.
Operational support of €6 million is also being made available to the smaller regional airports of Knock, Kerry and Donegal, in addition to €21 million in funding available under the Regional Airports Programme for 2021.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the additional funding was in response to the “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic on the international travel sector.
We remain committed to ensuring that the aviation sector can maintain the necessary core capability
“It is expected that it may be some time before it is possible to permit a large scale return to air travel, but we remain committed to ensuring that the aviation sector can maintain the necessary core capability to retain strategic connectivity and to quickly rebound when circumstances allow,” he said.
The funding package also includes an airport charges rebate scheme for January to March 2021, subject to State Aid approval from the EU Commission.
At an estimated cost of €20 million, it aims to maintain core connectivity through the winter season.
Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton said with this year and into 2021, the State will have provided more than €180 million in supports for the aviation sector.
Airport operators have “warmly” welcomed the funding, with Managing Director at Cork Airport Niall MacCarthy saying engagement and action from the Government was “appreciated”.
“Cork Airport is ordinarily the second busiest and best-connected airport in the State... Our business is now less than one-twentieth of what it was last year,” he said.
“This week has seen some green shoots internationally, including the adoption of the new EU traffic light system which is the first step in what we hope will be a move towards a widescale safe resumption of air travel within Europe.
"We are grateful for this support from Government as we start on that process.”
The Shannon Group which operates Shannon Airport also welcomed the funding, with CEO Mary Considine saying it would support its operations “through what will be a challenging few years ahead for aviation”.
“Together with the difficult cost containment measures we have had to put in place, the funding we will receive will allow us to navigate our way through this crisis,” she said.
“It is important to say that this support will benefit not only the airport, but businesses in this region and along the western seaboard who rely on our airport’s air services for their livelihoods.”