Recent data suggests that European air traffic is down 62% from 2019 levels, telling us what we already know, that aviation is in an ongoing nightmare through this crisis.

However, help may be at hand in the form of the EU “traffic lights” approach to travel that is finally being rolled out in Ireland. It applies to all EU/EEA countries plus the UK and though each member state is permitted to implement this general travel framework in its own way, by applying a uniform set of rules across the EU the hope is that it will provide greater certainty for travellers, particularly as the Christmas season looms into view.

The Details

The “traffic lights” system came into force in Ireland on 9 November, but all the details are only being ironed out and agreed on by cabinet this week.

Under the system the Irish government will rely on data published each week by the European Centre for Disease Control which will classify each country in the EU/EEA as green, orange, red or grey (for lack of information). As you’ll have guessed, anywhere classified red will be those countries with a high infection rate and at the time of writing just about everywhere in Europe is currently in that classification.

This information will then guide restriction timeframes when entering Ireland. At the moment the general rule is anyone at all entering Ireland must restrict their movements for 14 days (what that means exactly is set out on the Irish government website).

However, from 9 November, anyone entering Ireland from a green country/area or Northern Ireland will not have to restrict their movements at all and anyone entering from an orange country/area will not have to restrict their movements if they have received a negative/not detected PCR* test for COVID-19 in the three days before arriving in Ireland.

For arrivals from red countries/areas it has just been approved that from midnight on 29 November, no restrictions will apply if a negative/not detected PCR test is produced at least five days after arrival in Ireland.

A word of caution on the above, as with everything in this crisis, the details constantly change and referring to the Irish government website for the latest is advisable.

Irish Airports

In addition to the above, Dublin airport is currently setting up a COVID-19 testing centre for those flying out of Ireland into orange/red zones (though it’s worth checking on the destination and any local rules) with Cork and Shannon looking to arrange drive through facilities to provide the same.

Aviation’s Saviour?

Whether this will get everyone flying again is a bit early to say, especially as the PCR tests come in at around €200 a go. It’s very likely we’ll need to see a roll out of the recently announced vaccine (and any others) to truly end the nervousness both governments and people have to flying.  But what is certainly welcomed here is the implementation by Ireland of this EU approach to travel and at least shows that Ireland is happy to accept travellers albeit under certain conditions.

*Polymerase chain reaction

Leman Solicitors have extensive restructuring, distress and transactional experience in aviation. Please contact Aaron McGarry or Elaine White to discuss how we can help on 01 6393000 or visit