All transport options must be considered to help Irish people make it back home – BREEN

April 19th, 2010 - Pat Breen

With over 800 Irish passengers stranded abroad as a direct result of the Icelandic Volcanic Ash Plume blowing across Europe, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. has appealed to the Irish Government to make every effort to ensure that all transport options are considered to assist people to make it back home. He has also called on the Government to work with their EU Counterparts to investigate what assistance can be given to the Airline and Travel Industries, similar to the aid which was extended post 9/11 as many airlines could go out of business across Europe as a result of this latest set back.

“Before ever the Icelandic Volcanic Ash plume started to blow across Europe, the Airline and Aviation Sectors were in the midst of a recession. This latest set back could drive some airlines out of business. Aircraft make money in the air, not sitting on tarmacs and the airlines bottom lines are taking a huge hit. It is estimated that Aer Lingus and Ryanair for instance are losing up to €8 million euros a day and airline shares have dipped.”

“With Airlines unable to take to the air, over 1000 Irish people have contacted the Consular seeking assistance. Many have already made huge journeys to get home, whether it is hiring a car and driving across Europe and catching a ferry home. For others this is simply not an option. Many would have a budgeted for that holiday or break and they are running out of money. For those stranded in the United States there is the additional worry that they will never be allowed back into the US, if their 90 Day Visitor Visa expires.”

“The hours of operation of Irish Embassies and Consular’s all over the world must be extended to handle the numerous enquiries. Over the weekend, there were reports from Spain that people could not contact the local Embassy.”

“While this is an unprecedented crisis and safety must be our top priority, this Government should be proactive, in coordinating the response. The UK for example, have mobilised the Navy to ferry their citizens from France. It is vitally important that every option is considered to get people back home.”

“If this crisis is to continue for much longer, on the trade front it could seriously impact on businesses many of which have become increasing reliant on air freight for export and importing of their goods, quite a lot of our high value goods i.e. in the pharmaceutical industry depend on air freight.”

“The Irish government must put the case at EU Level for assistance for the Airline Industry, similar to the aid which was extended post 9/11. It is important that all measures are considered to assist our Airline Industry which is facing economic catastrophe. “