Ryanair is considering pulling out of Ireland, its home country, for the winter 2020-21 season. The threat was issued as the airline continued to attack the Irish government’s ‘green list’ approach to quarantine.
At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, countries around the world were closing borders and implementing 14-day quarantine periods. However, while many countries have been relaxing their restrictions, the UK and Ireland have continued to take somewhat harsh approaches to the rules. Ryanair has consistently hit out at Ireland’s green list that currently only contains ten countries. The Irish LCC has already been forced to cut services because of it.
Pulling out of Ireland
Ryanair threatening to pull out of Ireland is a significant move. While the airline’s largest hub is at London’s Stansted Airport, its headquarters are located at Dublin Airport. However, the airline feels that there is little point in operating flights on routes where quarantine is required.
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According to The Independent, Eddie Wilson, Ryanair’s CEO, said,
“We haven’t heard anything. And now we’re going into the winter and we’re going to have to move that capacity out of Ireland. You can’t do business with a 14-day quarantine.”
Aviation’s issue with quarantine
From a public health standpoint, quarantining everybody arriving for 14-days would ensure that passengers aren’t unwittingly bringing the COVID-19 virus into the country. However, from a more practical point of view, this is not working out for the airlines.
14 day quarantine periods put travelers off of flying completely. Nobody would fly for a meeting if they had to stay locked up in isolation for 14-days first. Meanwhile, for leisure travelers, it doesn’t make sense to go on holiday if a 14-day quarantine is in force.
For inbound travelers to Ireland, this would mean 14 days locked up before the holiday could begin. Meanwhile, for returnees, it means that they cannot go to work for 14 days after their holiday.
Ryanair is lobbying for the Irish government to revisit its green list. In mid-August, it demanded that Ireland add the UK and Germany immediately. Currently, travelers from Ireland aren’t required to quarantine in either country. Additionally, some of the countries on the Irish green list have a higher prevalence of COVID-19 than Germany and the UK.
In response to a request for comment, Ryanair told Simple Flying,
“We also call for the immediate addition of the UK, Germany, Poland and Denmark to Ireland’s Green List, given that these countries have much lower Covid rates than Ireland… NPHET and the Irish Govt have mismanaged Ireland’s recovery by keeping our island economy uniquely closed for business despite the act that the UK, Germany, Poland and many other EU states permitted the safe return of intra-EU air travel since 1 st July”
One possible solution to the quarantine problem is testing on arrival. Heathrow Airport today renewed its calls for the United Kingdom government to allow passengers to undergo COVID-19 testing to avoid quarantining for 14-days. Until such a quarantine can be avoided, both countries’ aviation industries will have their recovery stunted.
Meanwhile, Simple Flying yesterday reported that Air Canada had begun a COVID-19 testing trial in Toronto to try and convince the Canadian government to relax its rules.
What do you make of the situation? Is Ireland’s green list too harsh? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!