RYANAIR BOSS Michael O'Leary has called the latest travel restrictions imposed by the Irish government, which will require those entering the country to provide a negative Covid-19 test before entry, as "gobbledygook".
The new rules will mean all arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, will need to show either a negative result from a professionally administered antigen test within 48 hours of arrival, or alternatively, a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival.
The new rules will be effective from Friday, and includes those travelling from the Common Travel Area with Britain.
"We condemn the latest NPHET/Government gobbledygook for what it is, ineffective and inappropriate gobbledygook," Mr O'Leary said.
"When EU passengers have, for the last months, been travelling safely with the benefit of EU DCC or negative PCRs, what medical or health benefit is to be derived by asking these passengers to now produce a negative antigen test, when both NPHET and the CMO have been opposed to antigen tests for 18 months?"
He also pointed out that the there has not yet been guidance for what is defined by a "professionally done" antigen test.
"How are airline or Border Control staff supposed to understand what a professionally done antigen test is, or looks like, when neither the CMO nor the Government have even defined it?"
He said that as an island on the periphery of Europe, Ireland needs "simple, but effective health measures for international travel."
"This is the latest example of NPHET and the CMO making it up as they go along when both the European Union and the ECDC have already introduced a successful EU Vax Cert, which has allowed safe international intra-EU air travel for the past six months."
He then called on the government to ignore NPHET's advice on travel and return to a simple and readily understood system, "which protects free movement of EU citizens, subject only to production of an EU DCC or a negative PCR test."
Shares in the airline have lost around 10% of their value since news of the new Covid-19 variant emerged four days ago.
The move by the government has also been criticised by University College Dublin virologist, Dr Gerald Barry.
“Using a once off antigen tests like this to stop SARS-CoV-2 coming into Ireland, is scientifically unsound, and whoever came up with it should have a serious look at themselves,” he said on Twitter.
“I am actually embarrassed for whoever thought this would be a good idea.
He said a PCR test is better for travel, but the window of 72 hours is too long.
"Shorten that and require it on the other side too," he said. "Consider false negatives as well as the chance of infection in the interim. Has nothing been learned?? This is all just fluff to look like something is being done.”