Stranded passengers can rebook for free


Passengers on British Airways that
had been affected by the cancellation of the flights from Grand Cayman to
Heathrow and Heathrow to Grand Cayman over the weekend can rebook free of

The airline did not have exact
numbers of those affected as all efforts were focused on ensuring travellers
were able to sort out subsequent flights said Michelle Krops at British

“Number 1 priority at the moment is
to get as many customers as we can on our flights. Our operation has for the
most part been affected by no flights since Thursday so you can take into
account the number of passengers.

“At the moment passengers are able
to book via the website or contact reservations in order to change their
booking to get onto the flights that they can,” said Ms Krops.


British Airways said it is trying
to accommodate passengers returning to UK as well as passengers who hadn’t yet

 “We’re waiting to see if they are on a
vacation trip, whether they’ve cancelled, or are needing to travel and have
found other ways to get to their destination.

“At the moment our focus is getting
the operation up and running as quickly as possible in order that in the next
few days we can get our passengers and crews to be in the positions that they
need to be, in order to get all of our passengers as quickly as possible onto
our flights to begin their journeys,” she noted.

Passengers should contact British
Airways reservations office or the website to book a replacement flight on the
first available plane, she added.

BA flights each way between Cayman
and the UK
are now running as scheduled.


The European Commission must
compensate airlines for their enforced grounding due to the ash cloud,
according to the head of the International Air Transport Association.

The effect of 100,000 cancelled
flights due to the recent ash cloud over Europe
has led to more than $1.7 billion in lost revenues, impacting 29 per cent of
aviation and affecting 1.2 million passengers per day.

The industry lost $9.4 billion last
year and was already scheduled to lose $2.8 billion during 2010, said
association director general and chief executive officer, Giovanni Bisignani.


He urged governments to find ways
of compensating airlines for lost revenue, citing the precedent of the
post-9/11 $5 billion compensation paid by the United States government to
airlines for the costs of grounding their fleet. The European Commission
similarly allowed European states to provide similar assistance.

“I am the first one to say that
this industry does not want or need bailouts. But this crisis is not the result
of running our business badly. It is an extra-ordinary situation exaggerated with
a poor decision-making process by national governments. The airlines could not
do business normally.  Governments should help carriers recover the cost
of this disruption,” said Bisignani.

Cost savings of $110 million a day
on fuel have resulted from the no-fly.

According to calculations, the Eyjafjallajökull
eruption has been belching out a minimum of 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide per
day into the atmosphere, compared to the usual 344,109 tons generated by the
European aviation industry in a normal day’s operational activity.

The data was gathered by the Nordic
Volcanological Institute, based on estimates by scientists throughout Europe. These emissions are equal to the daily output of
a small-to-medium European economy.

Flights resume

Flights have resumed in Europe following a reduction in ash volume, changing
weather systems and a reappraisal by the European Commission regarding their
measures of handling airspace closures.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the
in conjunction with the Irish Aviation Authority, have now revised their restrictions
based on additional analysis from manufacturers, test flights and deeper
understanding of ash tolerance levels in aircraft. The revised CAA guidelines
require airlines to conduct their own risk assessments and develop operational
procedures to address any remaining risk.

“Airspace was being closed based on
theoretical models not on facts. Test flights by our members showed that the
models were wrong. Our top priority is safety. Without compromising on safety, Europe needed to find a way to make decisions based on
facts and risk assessment, not theories.

“The decision to categorize
airspace based on risk was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, not
all states are applying this uniformly. It is an embarrassing situation for Europe, which after decades of discussion, still does not
have an effective Single European Sky [policy].

“The chaos and economic losses of
the last week are a clarion call to Europe’s political
leaders that a Single European Sky is critical and urgent,” said Bisignani.


 There were three other measures that the air
transport chief said that the industry was to request from governments.

Firstly, a relaxation on airport
slot rules should be relaxed to avoid the current ‘use it or lose it’
allocation situation. Also, restrictions on night flights needed to be relaxed
to allow carriers to help passengers back home as soon as possible.

Bisignani said that Europe’s passenger rights regulations currently take no
consideration of acts of god such as the volcanic cloud.

“These regulations provide no
relief for extraordinary situations and still hold airlines responsible to pay
for hotels, meals and telephones. The regulations were never meant for such
extra-ordinary situations. It is urgent that the European Commission finds a
way to ease this unfair burden,” said Bisignani.

The industry is looking now to
mitigate the financial impact of the volcano incident. The CEO noted that Heathrow
and Dubai were
waiving their parking fees and not charging for repositioning flights and he urged
other airports to follow.

Bisignani said the ash cloud had
impacted on travel to a greater extent than the aftermath of 9/11, when United
States airspace was closed for three days.


Discussions on the future of the
worldwide airline industry will be centred on Berlin next month.
The International Air Transport Association will hold their general meeting
from 6 to 8 June in the German capital.

The event will coincide with the
World Air Transport Summit, which was due to discuss such matters as the
economic downturn and which markets were best placed to consolidate but now
will inevitably focus on the situation created by the eruption of the
Eyjafjallajökull under a glacier in the southwest of Iceland.

Seven hundred delegates will be at
the Berlin conference, with a third of those chief executives of airlines.
Bisignani said the AGM would be one of the most important in the airline

“Just as the industry was beginning
to recover from the financial impact of the global financial crisis, we have
been plunged into crisis once again with airspace closures following the
Icelandic volcano eruption. At the same time, we continue to face long-term
challenges to improve efficiency, safety, and environmental performance.

“We are still looking to break the
shackles of antiquated regulation and liberalize the industry to compete like a
normal business. This year’s AGM will address all these important issues,” he

He added that much of Europe had
gone six days without aviation but things were finally improving..

omic impact on aviation, according to the International
Air Transport Association.


Volcanic eruptions in Iceland have had a significant economic impact on aviation, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Photo: Julia Staples/Reykjavik Grapevine