Gains Eclipsed by Volcano

The airlines were once again struck with a financial calamity. (It’s become a familiar song.) This was despite signs of economic recovery and rises in demand. But no amount of positive statistics can combat the forces of nature. That became evident with the volcanic eruption in Iceland in mid-April that grounded many flights across Europe (some reports estimated more than 100,000 flight cancellations) over a week-long period.

Now that the ash has cleared, the losses have begun to mount. The International Air Transport Association estimated that airlines lost more than $1.7 billion due to the flight disruptions. The association cited losses of up $400 million per day during the three-day period when the cancellations were the greatest.

“Lost revenues now total more than $1.7 billion for airlines alone. At the worst, the crisis impacted 29% of global aviation and affected 1.2 million passengers a day. The scale of the crisis eclipsed 9/11 when US airspace was closed for three days,” Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO, stated in the release.

Now the focus has turned to government intervention in the crisis, as European countries consider measures to aid airlines — but just how much assistance will be given remains to be seen.

In the backdrop, however, demand figures have continued to improve. In March, passenger demand increased 10.3 percent and cargo demand increased 28.1 percent, according to IATA.

So just as the industry has experienced yet another financial hardship, there is still reason to remain optimistic. The industry should not lose sight of gains it has made. Perhaps one of the most important qualities in the aviation industry is resilience.

Thanks for reading,