Association of European Airlines: Some carriers could be out of business in the next week or two


BRUSSELS, April 19 (Reuters) – Some airlines in Europe are not going to be in business in the next week or two due to the volcanic ash cloud that has affected European air travel, the Association of European Airlines said on Monday.

“There are probably 100 to 150 airlines in Europe, some large, some small, some tiny, and some which are not going to be around in a week or two’s time, that’s for sure,” David Henderson, the manager of information for the AEA, which represents 36 leading European airlines, told Reuters.

“At any given time, and particularly at the end of 18 really really tough months, there are a number of airlines which are clinging on with their finger nails. A five-day, 10-day suspension of service is not going to be sustainable for them.”

Henderson said he was not talking at this stage about the AEA’s members — which include British Airways, Air France and KLM — but added of his group: “There are bound to be some which are getting pretty concerned, that’s for sure. There are bound to be some which are staring down the barrel of a gun.”

The AEA said its carriers had sustained cumulative losses of 625 million euros ($874 million) in the past five days, including compensation for stranded travellers. The group expressed its disappointment at the European Commission’s decision to focus on passenger rights first.

“Passenger rights are important but the fact that a major sector of European business simply is not operating at all ought to be the focus of attention right now,” said Henderson.

A lack of coordination among European states and the EU’s decision to err on the side of caution had caused delays in resuming air travel, Henderson said.

“There’s been no transparency to this process at all. We don’t know what the criteria have been for individual countries,” he said.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said on Monday the European Commission was determined to put passenger safety ahead of all other concerns.