The Irish government has agreed to provide an extra €48 million to the country’s aviation sector as part of a revised funding package worth €80 million.

The package increases the levels of support previously announced in the 2021 budget.

The new funding will see Cork and Shannon airports receive €22m in operational and capital funding supports on top of the €10m previously announced.

The regional airports of Knock, Kerry and Donegal will receive an additional €6m on top of the €21m in funding available under the Regional Airports Programme.

The funding package will also include an Airport Charges Rebate Scheme for January to March 2021, which will “support the retention of core connectivity” at an estimated cost of €20m.

The government said the rebate scheme was one of the recommendations made by the Irish Task Force for Aviation Recovery, but was subject to state aid approval from the EU.

Eamon Ryan, minister for transport, said: “The government is fully alert to the devastating impact of the global pandemic on international travel and values the critical role that aviation plays in the Irish economy.

“It is expected that it may be some time before it is possible to permit a large scale return to air travel, but we remain committed to ensuring that the aviation sector can maintain the necessary core capability to retain strategic connectivity and to quickly rebound when circumstances allow.”

Ryan added: “In addition to the general Covid-19 supports, such as the wage support scheme, and targeted aviation funding already committed in Budget 2021, I welcome the fact that the Government today approved this department’s proposal for an additional €48m funding for the sector, focusing in particular on Cork and Shannon and our smaller regional airports which are important contributors to the economics of their regions.”

Minister of state Hildegarde Naughton said: “It goes without saying that 2020 has been a difficult one for the aviation sector in its entirety, both for those employed directly and for businesses who rely on the sector, pilots and cabin crew, the staff at our airports, engineers, the groundhandling crew, the fueling companies, disability service handlers and catering staff.

“Today’s decision to provide additional supports to our airports further demonstrates the government’s intention to protect and preserve Ireland’s strategic connectivity.

“This year and into 2021 the State will have provided in excess of €180m in supports for the aviation sector. The funding package being announced today will ensure that our regional airports can maintain the necessary core capability to conserve strategic connectivity and to quickly rebound when circumstances allow.”