Home' Asian Aviation : AAV November 2010 Contents ERA report
Volcanic ash clouds
ERA airlines' growth
Representing some 70 smaller
carriers operating throughout the
continent, the European Regions
Airline Association (ERA) has
reported welcome, but modest,
signs of "gradual recovery" from the
worldwide economic crisis in the rst half of the year.
Even so, apparently strong underlying growth in air
travel to, from, and within the region during the rst
half of 2010 was o set by the e ects of airspace closures
caused by the Icelandic volcanic eruption in April --
which grounded many ERA members' chief executives
at their annual conference.
Ignoring that month's ash-related 10 percent
reduction in passenger numbers, there would have been
an increase of about 6 percent during the January-June
period compared with the same six months of 2009,
rather than the overall 2.9 percent gain actually achieved.
Statistics for the period, released at late September's
ERA general assembly in Barcelona, Spain, reveal that
member airlines provided no additional seats.
Accordingly, the reported 8.6 percent gain in tra c
(measured in revenue passenger-kilometres) shows that
they have continued to increase their average sector
length, which now approaches 720km (450 miles).
at growth has led to a 3.9 percent gain in capacity
(measured in available seat-kilometres) o ered, which
in turn, indicates an increase in average passenger-load
e cancellation of many ser vices in April is the
reason why landings in the rst half fell by 4.3 percent,
with accrued ying time falling a slightly larger 4.4
percent. Although the ERA eet's ratio of turbofan- to
turboprop-powered aircra has remained essentially
unchanged, these rates indicate that airlines are ying
the longer sectors at slightly greater speed.
Following increases in oil prices in 2007-2008, there
had been a decline in the numbers of turbofan aircra ,
but this year has seen their share stabilise at around 55
percent of the eet.
The impact of the airspace closures following the
eruption of volcano Eyja allajoekull will not be quickly
forgotten by ERA members, who remain "outraged"
at the failure of European governments to compensate
them for the costs they incurred in reimbursing
passengers for cancelled ser vices. Claiming that these
costs resulted from circumstances completely beyond
their control, operators have mandated the ERA board
to take up possible legal proceedings. ey have asked
the group's directors to pursue "any opportunity for
instigating a class action to recover damages".
Nearly 9,700 ser vices -- almost 13 percent of those
scheduled by member airlines -- had to be cancelled
following the closure of large expanses of controlled
airspace. Some 435 of the lost ights were in Central
Europe, while a further 33 percent involved Nordic
skies. Eastern and southern areas of the region escaped
relatively lightly from the safety precautions.
For ERA assembly delegates, these concerns about
ash-related cancellations joined many other established
worries, such as airport-slot allocation and other
" awed" European Union legislation, for example. " e
custodians of our airspace were simply not prepared
[and] the cost to airlines of passenger compensation
and assistance requirements outweighed lost revenue by
about 50 percent," according to ERA Director-General
"Many airlines will need at least all of 2011 to recover
from the revenue lost and the severe cash- ow problems
from [European Regulation] 261/2004 for passenger-
care requirements," concluded ERA President Antonis
Simigdalas as he prepared to retire from o ce.
Reviewing the previous 12 months' activities,
Ambrose said European air-tra c control services had
been "unprepared [for volcanic eruption] despite past
warnings" and disasters such as the Chernobyl nuclear
Small airlines in Europe have seen a slight increase in passenger numbers this year, despite the airspace closures
caused by April's volcanic ash cloud. Ian Goold reports from this year's European Regions Airline Association general
assembly in Barcelona, Spain.
Embraer told ERA members that it is considering
re-engineing its E-Jet aircraft family.
42 AsianAviation | NOVEMBER 2010
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