The Department of Transport will launch an emergency procurement process this week with a view to restoring air services linking Dublin with Donegal and Kerry Airports as quickly as possible.

Ministers Eamon Ryan and Hildegarde Naughton briefed the Cabinet on the plans this morning.

In a statement, the Department said it will issue a request for quotes directly to airlines in the coming days.

It is anticipated that the emergency procurement process will be completed by early July, with a view to services being restarted by the new operators as soon as possible.

In tandem, the Department will launch a procurement process for a maximum of four years for the continued provision of the services, which will apply after the temporary contract has expired.

This will mitigate against any disruption to these services once the emergency contract expires.

Earlier, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan indicated that the Government expects to make a deal with an airline to resume flights from Donegal and Kerry airports from mid-July.

Mr Ryan said that the Government is making contact with a number of airlines to see if there is an interest in providing a service on an immediate basis, under EU rules which permit the existing Public Service Obligation arrangement to run until January.

He said thereafter a new four-year PSO arrangement would be put in place.

He said Aer Lingus has stepped into the breach to run many of Stobart Air's services after the airline terminated its contract to run Aer Lingus's regional service last weekend.

Mr Ryan has said the Government is assisting the recovery of the aviation industry by having a "a steady, staged, predicable" path back to reopening international travel instead of a "start-stop basis".

"That is what the industry wants and we are delivering," he said.

Mr Ryan said the Government is to set up a Shannon taskforce to attract new economic opportunities to the region as a result of the pandemic effect on aviation-related jobs.

He said maintaining international connectivity in Shannon is key to keeping and attracting jobs in the region, adding there is a lot of concern about the potential loss of hundreds of jobs at Lufthansa Technik.