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21/04/2010
Airlines loss 1 Billion due to volcanic ash cloud

Airline losses from the volcanic ash cloud have climbed above a billion dollars and the industry is demanding compensation from the European Union as officials allowed some flights.
Airlines are losing as much as 300 million dollars a day, with European companies such as British Airways suffering the most. An umbrella group for the airline industry criticised European leaders` handling of the disruption, which has grounded thousands of flights to and from Europe for the past five days.
It`s embarrassing and a European mess, said Giovanni Bisignani, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association. The group complained that it saw no leadership from government officials.
It took five days to organise a conference call with the ministers of transport, and we are losing 200 million dollars per day (and) 750,000 passengers are stranded all over. Does it make sense? Mr Bisignani said.
Air transport officials said losses could run as high as 300 million dollars a day, although most analysts expect the effect on US airlines will be limited.
The disruptions caused by the ash cloud happened just as airlines were seeing demand pick up, particularly in business travel. Last year, the recession suppressed both leisure and business travel, causing the industry to lose an estimated 9.4 billion dollars, according to the IATA.
British Airways said airlines have asked the EU for financial compensation for the closure of airspace, which began last Wednesday. BA`s London hub was among the first airports shut down.
This is an unprecedented situation that is having a huge impact on customers and airlines alike, said BA chief executive Willie Walsh. We continue to offer as much support as we can to our customers. However, these are extraordinary circumstances that are beyond all airlines` control.
Europe has begun allowing limited air traffic to resume, giving hope to millions of travellers stranded around the world. But further delays are likely because the eruption from the Icelandic volcano that caused days of aviation chaos is said to be strengthening.
In Asia, a Japan Airlines flight from Moscow landed at Tokyo`s Narita Airport, the first European flight to arrive since Friday night, airport spokesman Toru Motoyoshi said. On Monday, two Alitalia flights departed for Italy. Singapore Airlines resumed flights on Tuesday to Barcelona and Rome, which joined Athens as the only European cities it flies to.


Source: Belfast Telegraph





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