The government paid almost €8,000 to subsidise flights from Donegal Airport during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been revealed.
Every return flight between Donegal and Dublin during the crisis has brought high costs to the state as it pays to maintain the essential service.
Just two passengers on average used the service per day in April, the Irish Independent reports.
Flights from Donegal Airport were reduced to one daily return from the beginning of the pandemic to 30th April to maintain an essential air service to Dublin.
The route is operated under the government’s PSO service. With just 56 arrivals at the airport in April, the subsidy cost was reportedly €5,952 per passenger journey.
A spokesperson at the airport confirmed last month that passengers travelling were on essential travel for health reasons and returning home from various locations around the world.
The airport also provides support to air medical and rescue services during the crisis.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross has this week proposed to establish a Task Force for Aviation Recovery to develop a framework for restarting aviation after the crisis.
He said: “State airports are continuing to facilitate airline services for cargo and for limited numbers of passengers. Regional airports, such as Donegal and Kerry, are also remaining open to facilitate the Government funded PSO air service between those airports and Dublin. These services allow Donegal and Kerry to maintain a basic level of operations and to safeguard connectivity.”
Minister Ross added: “The recovery of aviation depends on a number of factors including the lifting of constraints on border movements and the establishment of new arrangements to protect the health of passengers in the course of the aviation journey.”
The European Commission issued a communication on 13 May setting out guidance and recommendations relating to the travel and tourism sectors. The guidance suggests the criteria that should be applied to the removal of restrictions on border movements. The government is now considering how these criteria might be best applied in an Irish context.