LONDON – Aer Lingus (EI) has reportedly lobbied the Irish Department of Transport to argue against quarantine measures directly at EU level.

This comes as the bloc was preparing to publish its standardised travel policy. The airline also pushed for the existing requirements on passengers to restrict their movement to be dropped according to the Sunday Business Post. The Government is preparing to tighten the travel restrictions into Ireland amid growing concerns regarding the spread of new variants of COVID-19.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that passengers arriving into Ireland may be held in quarantine for five days if arriving without a negative COVID-19 test. Ministers are also likely to consider changes to the visa regime or the potential of hotel quarantine for travelers from South Africa and Brazil following the discovery of new variants of the virus.

Released documents show Aer Lingus wrote to the Department of Transport in October arguing that the quarantine measures and restrictions on passenger movement were “not necessary”. The airline instead called for the introduction of an “appropriate testing regime based ideally on an agreed EU testing protocol”.

Aer Lingus Airbus A321-251N Photo: Dirk Grothe/Airways

Ongoing Discussions

On Thursday, EU leaders held a meeting where the matter was discussed. Whilst there is currently no agreement yet to ban flights or bring in mandatory border controls across the EU, it is clear the direction the European governments are headed.

Should there be an introduction of strict border controls in the EU, there will be little to no outbound/inbound tourism in Europe until the removal of the restrictions. Taking into consideration the potential of EU restrictions and the new US mandatory quarantine, it is expected there will be little outside demand to visit Ireland for the foreseeable future.

It is expected that should the EU introduce controls, they will be adopted by Ireland as it removes the country from the exposure of going it alone. Discussions appear to already be taking place between the UK Government and the Irish Government and could lead in the formation of a travel bubble.

Featured image: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways