BA says passenger numbers sink on volcano ash chaos

6th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Airways said Thursday that passenger numbers fell by almost one quarter last month as a result of travel chaos sparked by a huge ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano.

The total number of passengers slumped 24.5 percent to 2.081 million people in April, compared with the same month of 2009, BA said in a company statement.

"In April 2010, the operation was significantly impacted by the airspace closures in the UK and other parts of Europe following the volcanic activity in the Eyjafjallajokull area of Iceland; this resulted in the equivalent of some six days of lost flying," BA said in the statement.

BA's Asia Pacific traffic was down 34.6 percent in April, while British and European traffic sank by 26.8 percent.

Airspace across Europe was closed for up to a week last month after Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano, situated under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland, erupted and began spewing a cloud of ash on April 14.

The aerial shutdown -- the biggest in Europe since World War II -- was ended following emergency talks between European governments, airlines and regulators.

Meanwhile on Thursday, airports in Ireland and Britain fully re-opened following another shutdown that was also caused by the Icelandic volcano ash, which can damage jet engines.

Turning to the trading outlook, BA added: "The underlying traffic volumes continue to show a positive trend, although challenges continue to affect the outlook."

© 2010 AFP

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