Fórsa, has said uncertainty remains over the recovery and future of aviation, despite signs of hope as more people are vaccinated against Covid-19. The union represents around 5,000 workers in airlines, airports, air navigation bases, aviation regulatory bodies, and air traffic control.
The union’s head of Services and Enterprises, Ashley Connolly, said the pandemic had struck a devastating blow to every part of the industry, and the future of the industry remains uncertain.
“Slowly but surely we are seeing roadmaps to reopening, which is encouraging after more than a year of restrictions, but there is no equivalent plan for aviation, an industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Ireland,” she said.
Ashley made her comments as air industries have commenced publication of the effects of the pandemic. The state-owned Shannon Group has reported a loss of €28 million last year, with passenger numbers falling by 79%.
Shannon chief executive Mary Considine has called for a “clear framework” to restart air travel, as Shannon endures an “unprecedented” crisis, and said restoring Ireland’s international air links would be pivotal to economic recovery.
Meanwhile, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) warned that air travel could decline again in 2021 as the body responsible for Cork and Dublin airports reported a loss of €284 million last year.
DAA chief executive Dalton Philips said Irish aviation has already lost a second summer, with passenger numbers potentially falling below last year’s, following the loss of a further 5.1 million passengers in the first three months of 2021. He said Ireland is at a competitive disadvantage in the absence of certainty from the Government on possible reopening.
Business travel decline
The industry faces greater long term uncertainty as business travel patterns are also likely to be permanently altered by the pandemic, as businesses cut back on travel spending in favour of video conferencing options, as well as giving consideration to emissions reductions. It’s reported that it could take up to five years before global business travel repeats its $1.4 trillion peak of 2019, though the industry is said to be expecting a lasting decline of between 10 and 25%.
Ashley said Fórsa was continuing to advocate for solutions based on social dialogue, and has backed campaigns seeking to ensure the future survival of this key industry.
“While there are welcome signs of hope elsewhere in the economy, there is little to draw comfort from on aviation’s future both immediate and long-term. All stakeholders, including the Government and industries relying on aviation, need to take on the challenge of planning a sustainable future,” she said.
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