EU disagrees with airlines' criticism over airspace closure: Spain

19th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The EU disagrees with airlines' criticism of the closure of airspace due to the ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano, the bloc's Spanish presidency said Monday, adding safety should be the main concern.

"We do not share the criticism made by airlines," Spanish Transport Minister Jose Blanco told a news briefing following a video conference of transport ministers from across the European Union.

"We are aware that they are going through a hard time. This situation is causing them important losses, but safety is paramount," he added.

Earlier, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Giovanni Bisignani, urged governments to reopen routes through the volcanic ash cloud over Europe after airlines successfully carried out test flights.

IATA, which represents the global airline industry, said companies are losing millions of euros per day and it urged governments to lift flight restrictions.

Air France-KLM said that it alone was losing 35 million euros per day while British Airways said lost revenue and one-off charges came to 15-20 million pounds (17-23 million euros, 23-30 million dollars) per day.

The massive setback is hitting the airlines just as they had begun to recover from the shock of the global economic crisis.

The EU said on Monday it was ready to authorise the same exceptional public aid that it had allowed for airlines in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

© 2010 AFP

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