Aer Lingus has announced it has been forced to cancel further flights due to a spike in Covid cases among its staff.

This has resulted in five return flights and a one-way flight being axed today with a further three return flights and one direct flight cancelled tomorrow.

Today's flight cancellations included Dublin-Paris, Dublin-Berlin, and Dublin-Hamburg while tomorrow, the EI149 to Heathrow has been pulled along with EI356/7 (Dublin-Munich) and EI692/3 (Dublin-Dusseldorf).

In a statement, the airline said: "Due to a mandate from London Heathrow Airport Authority, one return flight to Dublin Heathrow today has also been cancelled.

"Additionally, ground handling industrial action at Bordeaux Airport has required the cancellation of one return flight to Bordeaux tomorrow, 1 July.

"Just over 1% of Aer Lingus flights have been impacted by cancellations in June."

Aer Lingus said it wished to apologise to all those who missed their flights as a result.

Ryanair told RTÉ it had operated a full schedule of flights to/from Ireland this week "with no cancellations due to staff shortages/sickness".

The airline said it expected to operate all scheduled flights to/from Irish airports for the rest of this week (until 3 July), subject only to the risk of Air Traffic Control delays that are beyond its control.

Also today, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan defended the move for the army to be put on standby to assist at Dublin Airport.

He said it was to prepare for the eventuality that Covid-19 will make it difficult for the airport to operate at full capacity.

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Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Ryan said airlines having to cancel flights in recent days as a result of Covid-19 affecting staff was "absolutely" a matter of concern, adding that: "Our concern here is obviously first and foremost with the travelling public and their inconvenience.

"This ... is the reason we will have the Defence Forces on standby from 6 July," he said, "to prepare for that eventuality that Covid numbers would make it difficult to get the full capacity out of the airport".

He said that airlines have to manage their own scheduling services, and acknowledged it is currently a difficult time in aviation as Covid has "disrupted everything".

"Both in terms of getting staff and staff being out with Covid, we have to work our way through a difficult period. I am convinced, and particularly with the help of the Defence Forces now in the airport, we can and will do that."

"Both in terms of getting staff and staff being out with Covid, we have to work our way through a difficult period. I am convinced, and particularly with the help of the Defence Forces now in the airport, we can and will do that."

"At this time in this summer where through eventualities such as Covid, which no company or operation can fully control or manage, it is an appropriate use of our Defence Forces and to use their expertise, particularly in security matters where they will be deployed at the perimeter at the entry points to the airport. That frees up staff at the airport. "

He said it is, in his view, a "good definition of aid to the civil power", and was right to do as a last resort.