More flights cancelled at Dublin Airport as "system pressures" continue
"Our concern here is obviously first and foremost with the travelling public and their inconvenience."
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said it is a "very difficult time for aviation" as a large number of Dublin flights have been cancelled in the last week.
Due to a spike in Covid cases, Aer Lingus announced it was forced to cancel six return flights from Dublin on Wednesday (29 June), as well as two flights on Thursday.
Additionally, on account of a mandate from London Heathrow Airport Authority, a return flight to Dublin Heathrow on Thursday was also scrapped.
The airline has apologised for the inconvenience and said its teams are working to secure alternative travel options for customers affected.
"Should crew illness require the cancellation of additional flights in the coming days, we will seek to re-accommodate passengers on the next available services as efficiently as possible," Aer Lingus said in a statement to JOE.
"Aer Lingus anticipated the return of demand for travel once Covid restrictions were removed and built appropriate buffers into our plans in order to deal with a reasonable level of additional disruption.
"System pressures and ongoing issues at some airports and among third party suppliers have created considerable operational challenges which have been compounded by a significant spike in Covid cases in recent days."
The Irish Times reports that, with these cancellations, over 60 Dublin flights have been cut by European and North American airlines since 22 June.
On top of Covid, internal issues, airport problems and strikes have been listed as other reasons for some of the cancellations.
Appearing on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Eamon Ryan was asked if airlines cancelling flights because of Covid was a matter of concern to him.
"Absolutely, our concern here is obviously first and foremost with the travelling public and their inconvenience," he replied.
"It's the reason we have the Defence Forces now on standby or will have them on standby from 6 July - to prepare for that eventuality that Covid numbers would make it difficult to get the full capacity out of the airport.
"The airlines, obviously, they have to manage there. We don't run their scheduling service. But that is happening right across Europe.
"It's a very difficult time for aviation. Covid has disrupted everything both in terms of getting stuff back but also now staff being out with Covid.
"We will have to work our way through it, a difficult period.
"But I'm convinced particularly with the help of the Defence Forces now in the airport that we can and will do that."
Meanwhile, Dublin Airport has said the recent cancellations have not been the result of any issues at the building.
"While it’s a busy week at Dublin Airport with around 50,000 passengers departing each day, security screening continues to move well today as it has done all week, with the vast majority of passengers getting through in under 45 minutes," it said.