Visiting Dublin Airport over the past 14 months has been a pretty bizarre experience.

I've been there many times during that period for work purposes and each time it never failed to strike me how eerie the place is without passengers.

With largely empty departures and arrivals halls, and most retail and hospitality units closed, the cavernous expanses of the two terminals echo with the sound of silence.

Thankfully, for the thousands of workers whose livelihoods depend on it being busy, there is now a clearer pathway to those days of hustle and bustle returning.

After more than a year remaining largely grounded because of the falloff in international travel arising from the pandemic, the operators of all airports, as well as airlines, tour operators and travel agents now have a date for the resumption of services.

19 July should, if the public health situation continues to improve, herald the beginning of the end of the biggest crisis every to befall the sectors.

From that date, passengers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and have an EU Digital Covid Certificate, will be able to once again travel abroad to EU countries and possibly further afield also.

Although Mandatory Hotel Quarantine will remain in place for certain states where Covid-19 levels remain high.

For quite some time, airlines, ferry operators and airports have been seeking certainty on a date for resumption.

Aircraft need to be prepared, staff readied, routes planned and bookings taken, all of which take time to do.

Companies in the sector would obviously have preferred if it had been even sooner, with Ryanair calling for a resumption from the start of July.

They argued Ireland has been an outlier in Europe and slow out of the traps when it comes to restoring connectivity, a claim that's backed up by data.

According to the European air traffic control agency, Eurocontrol, in the past week flights to and from Ireland were down 83% compared to 2019.

By comparison, the average across its 41 member countries is a reduction of 60% compared to two years ago.

But the Government says it needs time to implement the new EU certification system and it also seems an additional buffer of a few weeks may be helpful in getting vaccination rates to as high a level as possible before opening up.

Businesses in the sector also know it could have been worse, with members of the Government suggesting as recently as last week that passengers might have had to wait until the beginning of August before they could board a flight to go on holiday again.

Daa, which runs Dublin and Cork airports, has therefore welcomed that there is now a date to aim for and has pledged to work with airlines to resume service as quickly as possible.

But it has also warned that it could be 2024 or 2025 before traffic levels return to 2019 levels.

Travel agents and inbound tour operators have also welcomed the certainty, although they've cautioned that given the necessary lead in period of many months that both consumers and the sector require, valuable time has already been lost for this summer at least.

What has gone down far less well though has been the Government's decision to stall the resumption of the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland and the UK a bit longer.

As it stands, while passengers arriving into Britain from Ireland don't have to quarantine, those arriving into Ireland from Britain do.

Given the strong bonds both societally and economically between the two countries, it was thought likely by many that the CTA would be restored ahead of EU routes.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic hit, a third of almost 38m passengers arriving here came from the UK.

But the Government is increasingly concerned about the growth in the UK of the Covid-19 variant that originated in India, with the number of cases in England doubling in the last week.

And so it is exercising caution, opting to wait a little longer before restoring the CTA, although quite how long remains unclear.

For airlines, including Ryanair and ferry operators, such as Stena Line, which have been vocal in their calls for the CTA to resume, the news has gone down like a lead balloon.

"The Indian variant is as prevalent in Northern Ireland as it is in the UK, yet the Northern Ireland border remains wide open," the airline said in a typically forthright statement.

"This Indian 'scariant' is a bogus excuse when all the evidence confirms that the Covid vaccines are effective against the Indian variant/scariant."

The CTA issue is not only an economic inconvenience but a personal one also for the many thousands of residents of Ireland who have family and friends in Britain, and the great many Irish people living in Britain who cannot get back to spend time with people they love here.

As an island economy, and one which is very dependent on foreign direct investment and tourism, getting connectivity back to pre-pandemic levels will be key.

Building it up again will be a slow process and without doubt Irish airports will be competing with hundreds across Europe when it comes to winning back routes that were culled over the past year.

Getting there will require ongoing assistance from the Government for some time to come, as travel and tourism firms are weaned slowly off the financial supports they've come to rely on.

Travel in the future may be very different, with requirements around vaccines and testing and other protocols in place.

But at least now the clouds are starting to clear and blue sky is appearing.

Hopefully though within weeks many will be back up in that sky again as the aviation and tourism recovery finally gets under way in a meaningful way.