The Irish government has agreed a revised €80 million funding package for aviation "in recognition of the very difficult winter season being faced by the sector".
An extra €48 million will be provided in support for 2021, in addition to that announced in the government’s 2021 budget.
The Department of Transport will provide further operational and capital funding supports of €22 million for Cork and Shannon airport, which is in addition to the €10 million in capital funding announced in Budget 2021.
For the smaller regional airports of Knock, Kerry and Donegal, in addition to the €21 million in funding available under the Regional Airports Programme for 2021, further operational support of €6 million will be made available.
The funding package will also include an Airport Charges Rebate Scheme for January to March 2021, subject to state aid approval from the EU Commission.
This is one of the recommendations made by the Task Force for Aviation Recovery and, at an estimated cost of €20 million, “will support the retention of core connectivity through the winter season”.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “The government is fully alert to the devastating impact of the global pandemic on international travel and values the critical role that aviation plays in the Irish economy.
“It is expected that it may be some time before it is possible to permit a large scale return to air travel, but we remain committed to ensuring that the aviation sector can maintain the necessary core capability to retain strategic connectivity and to quickly rebound when circumstances allow.
“Government has also decided that a study should be undertaken to assess the potential for a rail link from Shannon Airport and Shannon town to the Dublin Ennis rail line.”
Daa, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, has welcomed the announcement.
Cork will be able to apply for operational and capital funding, while airport charges at both Dublin and Cork airports for the first quarter of next year will be included within in the new rebate scheme, subject to EU approval.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Dublin and Cork airports and we welcome the government support that has been announced today,” said daa chief executive Dalton Philips.
Total passenger numbers are down by 76% for the first 10 months of this year, as the two airports welcomed 7.4 million people during that period compared to 30.6 million passengers during the first 10 months of 2019.