The CityJet CEO has welcomed new advice from the European Centre for Disease Control which states that air passengers should not be automatically considered high risk for spreading Covid-19 and should be treated as members of a local population that have not had any direct contact with an infected person.

Pat Byrne told the Claire Byrne programme that the advice, issued jointly by the ECDC and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, should increase people's confidence about resuming travelling again. 

Mr Byrne said it is difficult to ignore the advice, adding that it is consistent with the WHO's pandemic guidelines from 2019, which he said advocates against movement restrictions once a virus is substantially across populations. 

Mr Byrne said the issue is about people's right to travel safely and freely and the ECDC did not say lightly that people who travel present no greater risk than those who do not. 

He said the fact that the guidelines are based on numbers of cases derived from PCR tests is problematic, claiming the testing procedure has been shown to have huge inconsistencies. 

Ireland's refusal to embrace antigen testing is "extraordinary" as it is an inexpensive test and gives quick results, he added. 

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Mr Byrne said that CityJet crews have been flying since June, with crews moving around Europe and there has not been one case of Covid-19 among all of the crews.

He also said the idea of quarantine for passengers is "nonsense" and said that lockdowns are "a totally unproven blunt instrument".

But Professor Aoife McLysaght, a professor of genetics at TCD, also told the programme that it is not wise to let international travel go unfettered or uncontrolled but that the industry should be compensated for forced closures. 

Professor McLysaght said there was a failure to control international travel in the summer and there is good evidence that imported cases re-seeded cases here.  

She noted that there were 59 cases from one flight and secondary cases in six of the eight health areas in the country.

The Professor said we have accepted that some travel restrictions are needed to "get things under control" and we need to continue to impose them. 

However, she said the travel industry should be compensated for closing saying "we bailed out the banks and we should bail out the airlines".

She said it ought to be recognised that people are suffering in the industry for the common good.