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Agencies, airlines count losses to volcanic ash disruption

By  Kenneth Ehigiator
The ongoing volcanic ash disruption has cost aviation service providers in the country and airlines revenue estimated at billions of naira.

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While Emirates claimed to have lost $50 (N7.5 billion) million to the disruption on its worldwide operations, Arik Air and Virgin Atlantic Airways said they lost N1 billion and N500 million respectively for not flying into and out of the country due to the closure of the airspace of most European countries, especially Britain.

Similarly, British Airways said in a statement that it lost an average of $30 million daily to the disruption, just as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) said it was still quantifying revenue lost to the problem, which runs into hundreds of millions of naira.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigerian (FAAN) also claimed losses to landing and parking charges, especially as European carriers dominate usage of the country’s international airports.
Also not left out are the ground handling operators as the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (nahcoaviance) and Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SKYWAY).

Emirates President, Tim Clark, said the airline was losing revenue from 18,000 of its passengers a day as airspace across the United Kingdom and much of Europe remained closed.

Clark said Emirates was very closely monitoring the evolving airspace situation across Europe, following flight cancellations caused by volcanic ash clouds emanating from Iceland.

“The scale of this crisis is unlike anything I have experienced in my career. The longer it continues, the more complex the recovery process becomes, and like every carrier operating to Europe, Emirates is facing huge losses _  $10 million a day.

“There are losses which are coming straight out of our own pocket. But despite this not being a crisis of our own making, we are doing everything possible to minimise the impact on our customers,” he said in a statement here.

Twenty percent of Emirates’ fleet about 30 aircraft _ remain on the ground with much of Europe ‘s airspace still closed.
To date, over 80,000 passengers have been impacted by the ongoing disruption. 250 Emirates’ flights have been cancelled so far and more than 80,000 passengers have been impacted by the ongoing disruption
Clark said Emirates would continue to provide hotel accommodation for all passengers who were in transit in Dubai when the disruption began.

“We will also do everything we can to get our operation moving quickly once approval to fly has been received. However, we estimate it will take around 24 hours to get flight schedules back to normal,” he added.

Currently, Emirates does not accept passengers travelling to any European destinations excluding Moscow , Athens , Larnaca (in Cyprus ), Malta and Istanbul until April 20.

The airline is providing accommodation and three meals per day for approximately 6,000 passengers who were in transit when the disruption began at a cost of more than $1 million per day. Customers affected by the disruption could cancel their booking or change their onward destination without charge and Emirates has waived all re-issue and cancellation fees while the crisis is on.

It’s important to understand that this is a complex situation involving tens of thousands of people and becomes more complicated as the days go by. We appreciate how difficult it is for everyone affected.

Emirates is working on a contingency plan to ensure that we get flights and passengers moving as quickly as possible as airspace reopens.

This will include extra flights. However, like every carrier, we cannot fully activate contingency plans until we receive clearance from European Air Traffic Control authorities. Until this happens, we are unable to give firm time scales.

Similarly, Arik said they had lost about N1 billion to the closure of the airspace in Europe for not operating for close to a week.

In the same vein, General Sales Agent of Virgin Atlantic Airways, Chief John Adebanjo, said the volcanic ash incident was a devastating blow to his airline.

According to him, Virgin Atlantic Airways lost well over half a billion naira for not being able to fly into and out of the country.

He said the Nigerian route was the most profitable for the airline, adding that not flying on the route robbed the airline so much revenue.

For NAMA, the loss in revenue came from income that would have been earned from navigational, terminal and en route or overflying charges.

NAHCo, which claimed losses in excess of billions of naira, said it was still quantifying the exact money lost, but noted that it was colossal, particularly as European carriers dominate its clientele base.


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