‘Worse than 9/11’: Europe’s airlines and airports urge immediate reassessment of flight restrictions
Source: ©The Moodie Report
By Martin Moodie
"With 313 airports paralysed at the moment, the impact is already worse than 9/11. More than 6.8 million passengers have been affected so far and European airports have lost close to €136 million."
Airports Council International (ACI) Europe and the Association of European Airlines (AEA) today called for an immediate reassessment of the flight restrictions caused by volcanic ash dispersion from Iceland that has paralyzed European airspace in recent days.
Underlining the gravity of the situation, the two associations said in a joint statement: “For the fourth consecutive day, airlines and airports across Europe are facing the unprecedented closure of almost all the continent’s air space, due to the threat of volcanic ash dispersion.
“The situation has resulted in the total standstill of intra-European mobility by air, coupled with a huge ripple effect on long-haul aviation to the US, Asia and elsewhere. With over 63,000 flights cancelled since Thursday, many millions of passengers affected so far and a devastating impact for the aviation industry, the consequences are now expanding to the wider economy given the reliance of businesses on aviation.
“While Europe’s airlines and airports consider safety to be an absolute priority, they are questioning the proportionality of the flight restrictions currently imposed.
"The eruption of the Icelandic volcano is not an unprecedented event and the procedures applied in other parts of the world for volcanic eruptions do not appear to require the kind of restrictions that are presently being imposed in Europe,” said ACI and AEA.
AEA and ACI EUROPE said they supported the efforts initially deployed by the European Commission, Eurocontrol, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and national authorities to gain control of the threat posed to safety, but called for an immediate reassessment of the present restrictions at European level.
AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus said: “Verification flights undertaken by several of our airlines have revealed no irregularities at all. This confirms our requirement that other options should be deployed to determine genuine risk.
|New York blues|
|I feel sorry for so many people in our trade whose businesses were bouncing back from a desperately difficult 2009. Now many of those same businesses, not just in Europe but around the world, are running up huge daily losses. Because of a volcano in Iceland for god’s sake.|
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“For example, the FAA [ the US Federal Aviation Administration –Ed] has a world-established process of identifying clear no-fly zones. Airlines must be able to fly where it is safe to fly and make decisions accordingly. It is what our passengers demand of us.”
ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec, commented: “With 313 airports paralysed at the moment, the impact is already worse than 9/11. More than 6.8 million passengers have been affected so far and European airports have lost close to €136 million.
“Many thousands of passengers are still stuck at airports because of this situation. While safety remains a non-negotiable priority, it is not incompatible with our legitimate request to reconsider the present restrictions.”
"This is (another) disaster for retailers. We have shops closed all over Europe and reduced pax all over the world."
, the crisis has already had a devastating impact on travel retail sales and wider airport commercial revenues both in Europe and around the world.
One leading industry retail executive told The Moodie Report today: “This is (another) disaster for retailers. We have shops closed all over Europe and reduced pax all over the world. Just when things were starting to improve...”
Airport retailers and other concessionaires will be studying the force majeur
clauses in their contracts, while hoping the drastic impact of the widespread airspace closure can be limited to a few days.