Ash-cloud cost to airlines revealed soon

Hotel News - 03/05/2010

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British Airways and easyJet will on Thursday announce their April traffic numbers. The figures will provide the first accurate picture of how badly airlines were hit by the aviation chaos caused when a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland led to the suspension of flights across much of Europe.

As the massive cloud of volcanic ash drifted into European airspace, authorities closed controlled airspace across the continent for six days, starting on 15 April. As a result, airports, airlines and tour companies are thought to have lost billions of pounds.

BA had already estimated the chaos to have cost it between £15 million and £20 million per day. The exact scale of the financial damage is expected to become clear when BA releases its full-year results later in May. BA and Virgin Atlantic are expected to be hardest-hit by the flight suspensions.

Global aviation is already reeling from the double-whammy of a worldwide economic recession and sky-high fuel costs. British Airways is among several European airlines that have weathered industrial action over recent months. BA may still face further action if no solution is found to disagreements arising from those earlier strikes.

UK airport operator BAA said the ash cloud has cost it £28 million this year. Lufthansa says it has lost about £173 million. Airlines have already said the suspension of all flights was an overreaction by authorities and want governments to help with the financial damage. Carriers are also now mired in disagreements with regulators and travellers over compensation claims from delayed travellers.

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