Ashen outlook for carriers in face of volcano

08:43, April 19, 2010      

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Air travel chaos across Europe caused by volcanic ash spewed by an active volcano in Iceland continued Sunday, impacting tourists and businesspeople's schedules and causing economic loss to Chinese airlines and tourism agencies.

Air China canceled five one-way flights and eight return flights to European cities including Paris, Frankfurt and Moscow Sunday, according to a notice on its website. "The cancelation was due to closure of most European airports, and we will keep a close eye on the latest situation," said Zhu Mei, an Air China spokeswoman.

Other carriers including China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines have also canceled most flights to Europe, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Airlines worldwide are losing at least $200 million per day in revenue, the International Air Transport Association said Friday.

Tourism agencies have been affected too. "This is the first time we met such a natural disaster, and we can only wait and keep in contact with our tourists," said Han Ping, an employee on duty at China International Travel Service's branch in Beijing Sunday.

"We have a group of more than 30 Chinese tourists who were scheduled to fly to Paris from Beijing around noon Sunday and their flights will be postponed to tomorrow at the earliest," she said.

Han said another group of Chinese tourists in Europe, who will fly back to Beijing from Brussels Wednesday, might also be affected by the incident.

"The possible delay will not add to tourists' financial burdens, as we will share our tourists' additional expenses with the airlines," she said.

Air travel chaos has also affected some international conferences and events to be held in China this week.

The ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) Banking Commission Meeting, which was scheduled to be held from Wednesday to Friday in Beijing, will not convene at the planned time.

"The meeting will be postponed because many participants could not fly to Beijing from Europe on time," said Xia Tian, an employee in the business cooperation division of the China Chamber of International Commerce.

There may be an impact on the upcoming 2010 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which starts Friday.

"Some senior managers have not fixed up their trips to Beijing, but our auto samples have already been transported to China, so the incident will not affect our preparation for the exhibition," said Tang Jing, a media relations representative with Audi.

Source: Global Times

(Editor:黄硕)

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