The European Union is to exert “maximum pressure” on airlines to compensate passengers caught up in the volcano ash disruptions, but has hinted that aid may be made available to help cash-strapped carriers overcome the crisis.
EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said no airline should ignore customers’ rights to a refund or coverage of basic living expenses whilst stranded.
He put the cost of the crisis to airlines and tour operators as up to €2.5bn.
He added that there might be a case for state aid to support airlines. Any payment of state aid to help airlines would be by mutual agreement by member states, and done on a level playing field basis, he said.
He said the wider cost to the European economy was difficult to calculate so soon after the event.
Car rental is one of the industries suffering from the fall out of the airspace closure. This figures is estimated at €65m by CarTrawler.
The unprecedented travel disruption, which saw the largest grounding of aircraft since WWII, resulted in 22% of global car rental bookings being cancelled with over 95% of passengers not collecting their rental cars at most European airports. The disruption resulted in a cancellation of 100,000 global flights over the period which affected 10 million passengers.
Commenting on the crisis, Greg Turley, CEO of CarTrawler said: “The eruption caused enormous difficulties for the car rental industry and particularly in the area of fleet management. Car rental companies received a large demand for international one way rentals from travellers who were stuck abroad and needed to make their way home by road. However, the subsequent logistical difficulties in returning the vehicles have resulted in nearly 10% of car rental fleets being located outside their home country.”
“This crisis will particularly impact independent companies based in holiday destinations as tourists were not able to pick up their reserved vehicles. Car rental companies operating in island economies were the most severely affected as travellers could not make it to the airport by other means to pick up their car,” he added.