The estimated cost to airlines of the volcanic ash cloud now stands at $1.7bn (£1.1bn), and demands for government compensation are gaining momentum as criticism of “poor decision-making” mounts.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) yesterday said airlines' losses hit $400m during the worst three days of the crisis, double the earlier $200m estimate. British Airways alone puts its daily losses at up to £20m.
As UK airspace reopened yesterday and the repatriation of tens of thousands of stranded travellers began, criticism of government handling of the crisis was adding weight to calls for payouts similar to those made when the 9/11 terrorist attacks closed down US air travel for four days.
Cut-throat rivals are joining forces to push for aid. Airline bosses including those from BA, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet, wrote to the Prime Minister this week claiming that, as a natural disaster, the ash cloud presents “a clear case” for compensation.
The government says the request is being considered.