Airlines have lost 1.7 billion dollars due to ash: IATA

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Airlines have lost around 1.7 billion dollars after a "week without revenue" because of the chaos caused by volcanic ash, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Wednesday.

At the height of the upheaval on Saturday and Sunday, carriers were losing 400 million dollars per day, Giovanni Bisignani told reporters in Berlin, calling an earlier estimate of 200 million dollars per day "conservative."

Including costs to the airlines such as providing accommodation to stranded customers, food and alternative modes of transport like buses, the sector is left with a bill of around 1.7 billion dollars, Bisignani said.

"We've seen a week without revenue but that has not stopped the costs," he said.

He said that in Europe "governments must take their responsibility" and help the carriers, calling the firms victims of "an act of God, completely out of the power of the airlines."

European air travel was slowly returning to normal on Wednesday after volcanic ash drifting from an eruption in Iceland prompted a shutdown last week that left millions of passengers stranded and hit the economy.

© 2010 AFP

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