Air Berlin cancels flights -- for lack of passengers
The head of Germany's number two airline Air Berlin said it had been forced to cancel some flights on Tuesday, not because of volcanic ash but because passengers had failed to turn up.
"We started a completely normal flight programme this morning," Joachim Hunold said on Deutschlandfunk radio. "Here and there, we had to cancel flights because there were no passengers."
"It is up to the media to communicate the fact that air traffic is running normally. I have the complete picture in front of me. All flights started this morning, with only minor delays."
He said that the airline operated 104 flights on Monday, bringing back some 15,000 tourists stranded by volcanic ash from Iceland that has grounded much of Europe's air traffic since last week.
"Within two or three days, I expect all passengers to be back home and to have returned to a relatively normal flight schedule," Hunold said.
He also indicated that Air Berlin might apply for state aid to cover it for the "huge losses" sustained in recent days, as airlines received after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
"Once we are back to normal traffic we will have a look at the figures and look and see whether we have a similar situation to after the terror attacks of September 2001," Hunold said.
"After that we will decide whether the situation is similar. What is a fact is that we have of course suffered huge losses."
German airspace remains closed until 1200 GMT although some airlines, including Air Berlin and Lufthansa, have obtained special permission to operate some flights at lower altitudes.
© 2010 AFP