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Alaskan model may help restart the aviation industry

The aviation industry is staring into a winter of devastation but the answer could lie in colder climes.

An Alaska-style safe travel model could be utilised, amid warnings Irish airports desperately need support measures for the crippled aviation sector.

Traffic has collapsed by 97pc at Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Ireland West-Knock airports since the pandemic erupted.

Industry sources are concerned that if tight travel restrictions continue into the winter months, then the industry will be decimated.

Aviation officials have urged the Government to consider special measures to support safe travel.

It came as Ireland now faces having to react to a range of varied measures introduced across the European aviation sector.

All Irish passengers leaving Dublin Airport on Emirates Airlines must now have an official Covid-19 screening test completed prior to travel for admission to the United Arab Emirates.

Brussels Airport is expected to shortly introduce Covid-19 testing for all ‘red zone’ passengers with the installation of a special mobile testing facility.

Heathrow Airport, which boasts the busiest Irish air-travel routes, has backed calls for pre-flight Covid-19 testing on all medium- and long-haul routes.

Germany has also unveiled a special programme of financial supports for its airports.

Now, the Government has been urged to consider the Alaskan safe travel model – hailed as the most comprehensive outside of New Zealand’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all air travellers. Under the Alaskan model, all non-residents must arrive with a negative Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours of travel.

A special Alaska Travel Portal has been created to allow for test results to be uploaded digitally.

Any non-resident arriving without such a test will be required to undertake one at a cost of €200 and then to quarantine while the results are awaited.

Senator Jerry Buttimer said it was vital Ireland got people safely flying again.

“I believe the Alaskan model offers enormous advantages for Ireland. It is vital that people are reassured about the safety of flying and that while we kick-start a critical component of the economy, public health is also protected,” he said.

“I will be discussing this model with Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and the clear advantages it offers for Ireland.” Cork Chamber of Commerce policy director Thomas McHugh said that the aviation industry was critical for key sectors of the Irish economy.

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