WTC calls for action
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called for action to safeguard the health of the Travel & Tourism economy in light of continued travel disruption caused by volcanic ash. “While public safety must be paramount, decisions must not be made lightly as they can have serious impact on the US$5,751 billion Travel & Tourism economy,” said President & CEO Jean-Claude Baumgarten. “Although it represents 9.2% of world GDP and employs 235 million people worldwide, its influence on nearly every facet of our lives is rarely appreciated by governments until a crisis occurs. A co-ordinated approach to assessing the situation and implementing recovery measures is crucial for the sake of travellers and business alike.” He added that while it is still too early to assess the full financial impact of the crisis, there will be serious implications for all sectors of Travel and Tourism, not just aviation.
PremiAir rescues executives
PremiAir, the helicopter charter company, has been flying its twin-engined helicopters shuttle style between London and Dublin for stranded executives during the crisis. executives stranded by the continuing closure of controlled UK airspace owing to Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud. Since Friday 16th April the company has also carried out flights to and from Germany, Belgium and Paris, until the French ATC stopped all VFR (Visual Flight Rules) traffic. The company grounded its helicopter fleet on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning but resumed commercial flying Friday afternoon after undertaking its own risk analysis and after in-depth dialogue with the engine manufacturers on its Twin Squirrel and Sikorsky S76 fleet. PremiAir also took advice from its own in-house meteorologist and the company is constantly monitoring the situation. The helicopters have been operating with some strict operational restrictions – flying its helicopters at lower altitudes.
Ferry crossings available
The PSA (Passenger Shipping Association) has reported availability from member ferry companies which can assist passengers stranded by grounded airlines. There is availability on services from all French ports with a number of ferry companies are now operating a peak summer timetable in their efforts to accommodate passengers, with many increasing sailings and adding additional capacity to assist passengers in reaching their destinations. William Gibbons, Director of the Passenger Shipping Association, said that “Ferry companies continue to report a massive surge in demand for both foot passenger and car bookings - up to a four-fold increase in some cases. As the crisis continues, Discover Ferries member companies are doing all they can to increase capacity and assist those stranded without transportation. At present, ferry services are matching those of peak summer time as they continue to push the boat out to assist those who are stranded. Ferry firms are working 24-7 to assist and we can confirm that there is still some availability on key routes, including all French ports. Passengers are advised unless otherwise recommended to book prior to travel where possible”. For further information, availability and updates on ferry member companies visit www.discoverferries.co.uk.