Ryanair calls on Leo Varadkar to confirm support for new EU travel system following comments on Christmas flights 2 weeks ago

Ryanair calls on Leo Varadkar to confirm support for new EU travel system following comments on Christmas flights

Comments from the Tánaiste warning against Irish people travelling home for Christmas prompted a huge reaction at home and abroad.

Ryanair has condemned comments from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar cautioning against Irish people booking flights to travel home for Christmas.

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The airline has also called on Varadkar to confirm his support for the EU’s traffic light travel system, which would allow Irish people to return home from abroad without having to restrict their movements under certain circumstances.

On Thursday, Varadkar told the Dáil: "I think in terms of people booking flights for Christmas to come home, I'd advise them not to do that at the moment.

"I know that's difficult, I know that's tough, but Christmas is six weeks away - and it's too soon now I think for people to be booking flights to come home."

"We're not in a position at this point to advise people that it's safe to come home for Christmas,” Varadkar added.

“I know it's a tough message to hear, but that is the case at the moment.”

Varadkar’s comments were the source of much disappointment at home and abroad ahead of a period where thousands of Irish people based outside of the country travel home for Christmas.

Responding to Varadkar’s comments on Thursday, a Ryanair spokesperson said: “The EU ‘Traffic Light” travel system, designed by the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Control), gives people the certainty they need to book flights.

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“It allows Irish citizens to travel home for Christmas with a negative test result, and similarly allows EU citizens to also fly home for the Christmas season.

“Aviation is a critical part of national infrastructure and the Tánaiste, who is responsible for job creation, should be supporting the “Traffic Light” system instead of undermining it.”

On Monday (9 November), the EU’s traffic light travel system was implemented, a system which applies colour codes (green, orange, red or grey) to individual states based on criteria relating to the Covid-19 situation there.

More information on the system is available here.

Under the system, people arriving in Ireland from regions in an orange category do not have to restrict their movements if they have a negative test for Covid-19 three days prior to their arrival in the country.

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Earlier this week, meanwhile, Cabinet agreed that, from 29 November, people travelling to Ireland from countries in a red category will not have to restrict their movements once they pass a PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) Covid-19 test five days after their arrival in the country.

The current status of EU countries, and of countries outside of the EU in relation to restrictions on travel to EU member states, can be viewed here.

Advice for people travelling into and out of Ireland, meanwhile, is also available on the Department of Foreign Affairs website here.