Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Volcanic ash cloud in Iceland: Maldives arrivals for the month of April 2010

Cancellations from the European flights have resulted in huge loss to the Maldives tourism industry from last Friday till Monday.

This year Maldives tourism did very well during the last 3 months and estimated a forecast growth of 25% for the month of April with 71,482 arrivals.

However, during the last 5 days from Friday to Monday it is estimated that with the flight cancellations a total of 5000 less arrivals would result with an estimated growth of 18% on the forecast figures with a total of 66,482 arrivals for the month of April 2010. In April 2009 Maldives had a total of 57,186 arrivals.

According to Reuters Airline industry group IATA criticized Europe’s responses to a volcanic ash cloud and called on Monday for urgent steps to reopen airspace after five days of closures that have cost airlines US$250 million a day.

According to BBC and Reuters; flights from large parts of Europe are set to resume on Tuesday under a deal agreed by the European Union to free up airspace closed by a cloud of ash hurled into the sky by an Icelandic volcano. Under the deal, which Kallas said would take effect from 0600 GMT; the area immediately around the volcano will remain closed. But flights may be permitted in a wider zone with a lower concentration of ash, subject to local assessments and scientific advice, the European aviation control agency Eurocontrol said. "From tomorrow morning we should see more planes flying," EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told reporters on Monday after EU transport ministers held a video conference.

Flight from Schiphol Airport on Monday night operated, one of three bound for New York, Shanghai and Dubai from Amsterdam with almost 800 passengers on board.

Germany will mostly maintain its no-fly zone until 1200 GMT, and in Britain, where some northern airports excluding London's international hubs will reopen from 0600 GMT, National Air Traffic Services warned. France said it was reopening some airports to create air corridors to Paris. Italian airspace will open from 0600 GMT.

Eurocontrol said it expected up to 9,000 flights to have operated in Europe on Monday, a third of normal volume. “The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK."

Industry losses worldwide for passenger airlines and cargo companies could reach as much as $3 billion from the cloud, Helane Becker, an analyst with Jesup & Lamont Securities, told Reuters Insider on Monday. For U.S. airlines, she estimated the impact at $400 million to $600 million. Japan Airlines said it had cancelled 55 European flights, affecting 14,277 passengers. All Nippon Airways (ANA) has cancelled 33 flights, affecting about 8,500.

Millions of people have had travel disrupted or been stranded and forced to make long, expensive attempts to reach home by road, rail and sea, as well as missing days at work and school at the end of the busy Easter holiday season.

It is anticipated that the holidays booked for long haul destinations would remain unaffected and therefore once the airline industry starts normal operation this week, it is expected that the arrivals for the Maldives will have a positive growth of 25% for the month of April as forecasted prior to the flight cancellations.


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