The interim chief executive of Aer Lingus has said that people need to move on from a mentality of "flight shaming" and should be promoting international travel as being critical to the Irish economy.

Donal Moriarty told RTÉ's Brendan O'Connor programme that the narrative about Covid-19 at policy level has affected people's decisions not to travel.

He said that despite the introduction of the European traffic light system, the Government is still advising people not to travel.

Mr Moriarty said people have been conditioned not to travel and there has been a "toxicity" around it that needs to end.

He said there has been a lot of learning about the virus since the start of the pandemic and a range of measures have been put in place that significantly mitigate the risks of travelling, such as a declaration of fitness to travel, the requirement to wear a mask and socially distance at the airport, and changes onboard to make it safer to fly.

He said data from both the Health Service Executive and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show travel was a cause of less than 1% of community transmission in Ireland.

Mr Moriarty said that Aer Lingus plans an extensive return of services from April and aims to be at 70% of regular operations by the middle of June.

He said Aer Lingus plans to fly to most sun destinations next summer, along with getting US operations back up and runnning to a reasonably normal level, while business travel to the UK and other European cities would return to normal.