BA returns to the skies as UK lifts air traffic ban

| 21/04/2010

(CNS): British Airways has begun re-operating its Nassau/Cayman shuttle today, signalling a resumption of service following the closure of UK airspace on 15 April after Iceland’s EyjafjallajoKul volcano erupted, spewing a cloud of ash across Europe. Wednesday’s flight from London, Heathrow will bring in passengers bound for Nassau and the Cayman Islands and return 189 passengers from both islands to London, British Airways has said. Three flights to London from Nassau and Cayman were cancelled after the closure of the UK airspace grounded flights from all airlines.

Most of the passengers in Cayman have been re-booked either to travel directly from the islands to London or via the USA, while some have opted to stay longer. Meanwhile, BA said, it has begun the process of rebuilding global operations and expects to run flights to all long-haul destinations today from Heathrow and Gatwick.  Short-haul services resumed after 1:00 pm GMT, today.
According to reports from the British media today, the transport secretary, Andrew Adonis, denied that the UK government had decided to reopen the skies to air travel under pressure from airlines. "They have obviously wanted to be able to fly their planes — of course they have — but that has not been the issue at stake here," he told the BBC.
But British Airways appeared to have initiated a showdown by announcing on Tuesday it had more than 20 long-haul planes in the air and wanted to land them in London. Despitebeing told that British air space was firmly shut, radar tracking sites showed several BA planes circling in holding patterns over England late Tuesday night, before the surprise announcement that the air space over Britain was being reopened.
"I don’t believe it was necessary to impose a blanket ban on all UK airspace last Thursday," BA chief executive Willie Walsh told AP. "My personal belief is that we could have safely continued operating for a period of time."
In Berlin, Giovanni Bisignani, the head of the International Air Transport Association, called the economic fallout from the six-day travel shutdown "devastating" and urged European governments to examine ways to compensate airlines for lost revenues, as the US government did following the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.
Airlines lost $400 million each day during the first three days of grounding, Bisignani told a news conference Wednesday. At one stage, 29 percent of global aviation and 1.2 million passengers a day were affected by the airspace closure ordered by European governments, who feared the risk that volcanic ash could pose to airplanes.
"For an industry that lost $9.4 billion last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8 billion in 2010, this crisis is devastating," Bisignani said. "Governments should help carriers recover the cost of this disruption."

Category: Business

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    BA flights from Cayman to London are now CI$2600 return and the only seats they are selling from here are World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy)!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      it is only short term as they are trying to stop people buying seat as they need space to return people back UK.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank God, Can we get Baines and his SPIT officers on the next flight?

    Please no First Class tickets this time though, the country cannot afford it…ahh what the hell, send them off in style, it will be worth every penny!!!!

    • Certified says:

      No First Class Tickets for them – that is easy. There isn’t a First Class service on this route anymore.