- Danger of other airlines following Stobart’s example
- Antigen testing can boost sector
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe is calling for assurances that antigen testing will be used as a viable alternative to PCR testing to allow the aviation sector get back up and running.
It follows the announcement by Stobart Air that it has ceased operations.
“In light of Stobart Air’s announcement, it is essential that urgent actions are taken to prevent other airlines from facing the same fate,” said Deputy Crowe
“Ireland now has a pathway back to a safe resumption of international travel and many people, myself included, look forward to flying this summer in the safe knowledge that other passengers on the plane would be Covid-free.
“Pre-departure testing at airports will ensure that travelling by air will, in all likelihood, be safer from a Covid perspective than travelling on buses, trains and other forms of public transport.
“It remains a huge concern, however, to all that work in the aviation sector that PCR testing may be a barrier to people flying.
“Many Irish people are used to buying a bargain basement air ticket from an airline but the cost of a PCR test, which can be anything up to €150, will make many international trips unviable this summer.
“A number of months ago, the government commissioned a report on antigen testing which was completed by Professor Mark Ferguson this report concluded that antigen was a safe and effective way of testing individuals and I think we now need to embrace it as a parallel testing to PCR testing.
“Antigen tests typically cos less than €10 and can give an accurate read within a half an hour – whereas a PCR test is usually within three days of flying.
“In this way, PCR tests can some way be likened to breathalysing a few hours before going to the pub – it doesn’t capture all of the relevant data.
“For this reason, I think it’s important that antigen tests are factored in as a cheaper and equally effective alternative.
“A family with two kids would face huge costs if they had to take PCR tests, where antigen testing would relieve this burden but also give airlines a glimmer of hope for the months ahead.”