Over the last few days we have seen an unprecedented event where the UK, and part of the European, airspace has been closed due to the massive cloud of volcanic ash that is high in the atmosphere. This all started on Thursday and even though it is looking likely that some flights will start tomorrow I reckon that there will be more disruption ahead. But who are the winners and losers of this phenomenon.
Obviously big losers are the passengers themselves who can’t get to their planned destination for business or pleasure, or more terrible, can’t get back from a trip. Passengers are being troubled by being stranded but the airlines and travel companies are losing serious amounts of money everyday which they can’t afford following a poor few years for the operators. It’s reported that British Airways is losing around £15m a day, and TUI who is Europe’s largest travel operator is losing up to £5m a day. The closure of the airports has a knock on effect to the airport transport companies and taxis that will have been booked for transfers, as well as the shops in the airport who are used to a constant stream of people. I wonder if the airport staff get paid even if the airport is closed in this situation?
There are of course the winners too and the main ones are the alternative methods of travel such as the Cross Channel ferries, the Eurotunnel and Eurostar (who carried 50,000 extra passengers in 2 days), as well as the national train companies taking on more domestic passengers. The big winners are the taxi drivers who get a fare to take a family across Europe or the length and breadth of Britain. There are also the hotels that will be raking it in from people who have no alternative to stay longer. It was reported that some airport hotels that would normally charge £50 a night were charging up to £200 due to the level of demand.
There has been talk of disruption to imports and exports as goods struggle to get in and out of the country. Many items don’t rely on airfreight as they tend to go by road or sea, but perishable items such as food and flowers will be air freighted. It’s been reported that the Kenyan economy is losing over $3m a day due to being unable to fly perishable goods to Europe. There is of course disruption to courier companies such as DHL, TNT and FedEx who rely on airfreight for them to offer a fast and efficient delivery schedule to customers.
There is also a loss to the economy for the time missed by employees who are stranded abroad, or for the meetings that have to be rescheduled due to people not being able to get out of the country or back in. Today some schools were even closed on the first day back after the Easter holidays as there were too many teachers missing.
The big winner in all of this is anyone who lives in a flight path and has the constant roar of jet engines from dawn until dusk. I can’t imagine buying a house in a flight path but many people do, so the last few days must have been bliss. At Kew Gardens in London people were amazed how quiet it was and they could actually hear the birds singing. They will be hoping that the ban on flights will carry on longer.
As I mentioned earlier the aviation industry is hoping to get some flights running again tomorrow, but as long as the volcano keeps erupting there will still be smoke and dangerous ash in the upper atmosphere. Let’s just hope that they don’t rush lifting the flying ban too soon and cause a massive air disaster.
Some great Volcano pics here