Aircoach, one of Ireland’s leading private bus and coach operators, is calling for more clarity for the industry under the current restrictions, writes Shauna McCrudden
Whenever I’m planning on travelling to Dublin Airport, I always take Aircoach as it is easy to catch and cheaper than any private transport. But with the current Covid-19 restrictions, Aircoach, along with the majority of Ireland’s private coach and bus companies, ground to a halt in March. New restrictions also mean that a total of 11 passengers will be able to travel per coach, instead of the usual 49.
This has caused great uncertainty as to whether or not the industry will be in a position to resume or sustain services in the coming months.
Dervla McKay, Managing Director of Aircoach, says the industry needs clarity from the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport, and will require short-term financial support
“As per the Government’s guidelines, transport providers are to actively restrict and monitor passenger numbers to ensure compliance with social distancing. While we completely understand the need to restrict passenger numbers, this will mean that with the current two-metre restriction in place, a total of 11 passengers will be able to travel on our coaches instead of a normal 49. In order to meet demand, as well as having a viable business, we will need to almost double our fleet. The industry hasn’t received clarity on this issue from the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport which is very much needed.”
Prior to Covid-19, Aircoach operated five 24-hour services connecting Dublin Airport, Dublin City Centre, Belfast, Cork, Greystones, Bray, Leopardstown, Killiney and Dalkey. Since Ireland’s private coach and bus industry plays a significant role in transporting the people of Ireland and employs 11,500 full-time staff, it is vital that they are in a strong position and they are financially viable.
Dervla continues, “Without short-term support from the Government, it won’t be viable for Aircoach and the majority of Ireland’s private operators to resume business. While we are grateful to avail of the current wage subsidy scheme for our employees, support will be needed to resume and protect services while restrictions are in place. As restrictions ease and demand increases, it may also be necessary to operate additional coaches due to the reduced capacity per coach.
“The safety of our passengers is of utmost importance to us and always has been, but the industry will need support from the Government. We are currently preparing our fleet with additional safety measures in order to best protect our customers and employees.”
With travel restrictions loosening and more and more people beginning to travel in the next few months, the Government’s lack of clarity may be causing more harm than good for the whole travel industry. If you want to travel to Dublin Airport, it may not even be possible on Aircoach anymore and lots of people have lost their transport connection.
Dervla says, “With the current measures in place, it is more financially viable to leave our coaches at the depot than putting them out on the road.”
For further information on Aircoach, visit www.aircoach.ie
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