Aer Lingus has warned that the airline's operations in Ireland will be smaller "for some time to come" and it "will take a long time to fully recover".

CEO Lynne Embleton said that the airline will have to "right size", but she hoped that this could be done through voluntary means.

She is appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks today.

Senator Gerry Horkan was told that pre-pandemic Aer Lingus operated 40 short haul aircraft, but the airline is now is operation with closer to 30 planes, "with many of those not seeing much utilisation on a daily basis", Ms Embleton said.

The airline has 19 long haul aircraft, but "they're not working very hard either", she explained.

Senator Horkan was told that while some aircraft are parked on the continent, that was not an indication that were to remain outside of Ireland long term.

Ms Embleton said that there was a lot of focus on regional airports at today's Committee, which she understood, but she said, "we must not let that distract us from the overall impact on aviation, on connectivity and connecting the island of Ireland".

The Aer Lingus CEO told the Committee that the airline's expansion in Manchester should not have a negative impact on Ireland and she believes it will be a positive.

Politicians also heard that the majority of Stobart Air Routes will be run by Aer Lingus until at least the end of August.

However, Ms Embleton said that these routes were better suited to smaller aircraft.

Discussions with Emerald Airlines for that service are progressing well, she told Senator Jerry Buttimer.

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Ms Embleton also told the committee that restrictive travel policy and a lack of sector specific supports represents a "critical risk to aviation jobs and connectivity".

In her opening statement, Ms Embleton called for the introduction of rapid antigen tests and criticised what she described as "onerous" travel restrictions between the UK and Ireland.

She also wants US and UK passengers who arrive in Ireland to be treated the same as those travelling under the EU Digital Covid Certificate regime, when its implemented on 19 July.

The Aer Lingus chief executive also criticised the recently increased self-isolation period for unvaccinated UK arrivals, from five days to ten.

The Government changed the requirement in response to concerns over the Delta variant but Ms Embleton claims the measure creates uncertainty and has a marginal effect on risk.

Aer Lingus still losing more than €1m a day

Aer Lingus is losing more than €1m a day and does not expect the Government's plan to ease travel restrictions next month will give it a significant near term bounce, its CEO also told the committee today.

Ms Embleton said the decision to close its base at Shannon Airport, one of its four main domestic hubs, did not signal a strategic retreat from the regions.

But she said she could not give assurances there would be no more job losses.

Aer Lingus lost €103m in the first three months of 2021 and was in talks with its parent firm IAG and the Government about potential further liquidity, she said.

"From the day we stop burning cash, that's not the end of our problems. We need to repay the debt, repay the interest, restore the balance sheet and have the money to be able to pay for aircraft," Ms Embleton said.