Home' Asian Aviation : AAV May 2010 Contents AsianAviation | MAY 2010 17
in Europe, according to director-general Giovanni
Bisignani. At its worst, the crisis impacted 29
percent of global aviation and a ected 1.2 million
passengers a day.
Regional airports lobby group ACI Europe
reckons the six-day ight suspension cost airports
250 million euros in lost revenues. Director-
general Olivier Jankovec supports Bisignani:
"[ ose] six days have unequivocally shown that
Europe is in dire need of a fully functioning SES
[Single European Sky, the lack of which] can lead
to paralysis, with dramatic consequences".
IATA particularly supports the transport
ministers' plan to appoint an SES network
manager before 2011, two years earlier than
previously scheduled, and to improve aviation risk-
management for volcanic activity. "IATA is working
with ICAO to apply lessons learned from this event,"
"Co-ordinated European action is urgently needed
to revise the existing international procedures in case
of volcanic activity," says Kallas. e EC will establish
an expert group, develop new methods for risk
management, and intends to submit EU proposals
to the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) general assembly in September.
Kallas says that if the SES network management
had been established before April's crisis, the situation
would have been quite di erent. "A more harmonised
and co -ordinated approach to risk and ow/capacity
assessment, and the ability to formulate quickly
proposals for solutions are needed."
Once European airspace re-opened on 20 April,
almost 100 percent of normal air tra c returned in
two days. On 21 April, about 22,500 ights operated
-- equivalent to over 80 percent of usual Wednesday
ser vices. Transatlantic ights returned quickly, with
338 ights arriving in Europe on 21 April, even while
restrictions remained in force in areas such as Finland
and northern Scotland.
Although by no means su ering as heavily in their
operations as many European airlines, carriers in Asia
were still badly compromised by the knock-on e ects
of the European airspace closures in mid-April.
As an illustration of the economic impact on
local operators, Association of Asia Paci c Airlines
(AAPA) Director General Andrew Herdman said at
the height of the restrictions that ights to and from
Europe represented some 15 percent of total passenger
revenue -- or US$40 million a day -- for the major
players in the region. As a result of the restrictions,
Asian airlines had to make special arrangements to
clear substantial backlogs of stranded passengers and
re-position grounded aircra .
A er European airspace reopened, Kuala Lumpur-
based Malaysia Airlines (MAS) laid on additional
ights, as far as airport authorities allowed, enabling
stranded customers to reach their destinations as soon
as possible. For example, the carrier added extra return
services from the Malaysian capital to Amsterdam,
London's Gatwick Airport, and Sydney, some with
larger capacity than normally used on those routes.
MAS operations director Captain Azharuddin
Osman said MAS had managed to clear over 2,500
passengers by 23 April when the additional ights
began, with some 11,000 still stranded across its
network at that time.
Hong Kong's Cathay Paci c Air ways resumed
ser vices to Europe on 21 April and carried 12,600
passengers on its routes to Amsterdam, Frankfurt,
London, Milan, Paris, and Rome within two days.
Of these, 7,400 were travellers whose ights had
been delayed or cancelled because of the volcanic
ash cloud, with over 20,000 Cathay passengers
estimated to have endured disruptions during the
By 23 April, the airline had arranged ten extra
flights and added more seats on 30 flights to
London and Rome using larger aircra . Cathay's
Ser vice-Delivery Director Ivan Chu said on that day
that while four ights to London and one each to
Amsterdam, Paris, and Frankfurt had been cancelled,
the airline had upgraded its Rome ser vice from an
Airbus A340 to a Boeing 747-400 to provide an
additional 96 seats.
Taipei-based China Airlines was able to announce
resumption of a normal schedule to and from Europe
from 22 April, when it deployed extra capacity in the
shape of a Boeing 747 to Frankfurt and provided
additional flights to London the next day. Two
aircra initially stranded on the ground in Frankfurt
were available as soon as German airspace re-opened
to return travellers to Taiwan. CAL's strategy was to
upgrade ights to 747 or to put on extra services as
airport and eet capacity allowed.
In Australia, Qantas scheduled supplementary
ser vices to Europe from 23 April, to increase
customers' options following the closure of European
airspace. At that time, Chief Executive Alan Joyce
estimated it would take up to three weeks to clear
the carrier's backlog.
e extra ights began with Frankfurt and
London ser vices to Sydney, via Singapore, and one
from the Australian city to Frankfurt that Qantas
planned to duplicate to London. e airline said
that the unscheduled grounding of its aircra in
Sydney and Melbourne, as well as at various Asian
hubs, had cost it up to A$10 million (US$9.9
million) by 22 April.
As early as 16 April, and with European airspace
rmly closed, Air New Zealand (ANZ) had been
"strongly" advising passengers to change their
travel plans because of the disruption to schedules.
ANZ itself then began to modify its own plans,
warning travellers on London-bound ser vices that
ights "NZ2 and NZ39 will depart to Los Angeles
and Hong Kong, respectively, but may terminate
at these ports". Other long-haul ights to Asia and
North America were una ected in the early days of
the initial European airspace shutdown.
South Korean carrier Asiana resumed European
ser vices from 21 April, saying its Incheon ights to
Frankfurt and Paris would operate as usual on 23
Another major Asian carrier putting on additional
ights once the initial crisis abated was Singapore
Airlines (SIA), which worked to clear large numbers
of a ected passengers. e carrier provided an extra
nine UK ser vices to Manchester during 23-28 April,
because of a lack of slot availability at London
Heathrow, supported by ground transport to the
On the same days, the scheduled Boeing 777-
300ER Singapore-London return operation was
upgraded to an Airbus A380. Elsewhere in Europe,
the airline put on three supplementary ights to
Frankfurt and single extra ser vices to Paris and Zurich
during the same period. Like other operators, SIA
waived cancellation and change fees for holders of
con rmed tickets to and from Europe.
As the volcano emitted a fresh cloud of ash on 4
May, the Icelandic Meteorological O ce reported
a plume at an estimated 19,000-20,000 altitude
moving toward Europe and visible from a distance of
up to 250 miles on NOAA satellite images. Whether
this was a last gasp, or whether airlines operating in
Europe are facing a catastrophic summer, remains
Either way, Kallas acknowledges the inevitability,
one day, of a repeat episode. " is is going to continue
to happen," he says. "It might be next week. It might
be in 20 years. But it will happen again; and volcanoes
do not obey rules."
According to Icelandic meteorologists speaking the
same day: "Presently there are no indications that the
eruption is about to end." ●
Qantas added supplementary
services to Europe after 23 April.
Links Archive AAV April 2010 AAV June 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page