MANILA, Philippines - Airlines have lost over $1.7 billion in revenues since a volcano in southern Iceland erupted, causing cancellations of flights bound for Europe, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a statement.
IATA noted that from April 17 to 19, when travel disruptions were greatest, airlines lost $400 million per day.
"Lost revenues now total more than $1.7 billion for airlines alone. At the worst, the crisis impacted 29% of global aviation and affected 1.2 million passengers a day. The scale of the crisis eclipsed 9/11 when US airspace was closed for 3 days," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive.
Bisignani said the volcano crisis was "devastating" as European carriers were already expected to lose $2.2 billion this year -- the largest in the industry.
In 2009, the global aviation industry booked $9.4 billion in losses due to the economic crisis. Before the eruption in Iceland, the industry was forecast to lose $2.8 billion in 2010.
Bisignani urged European governments to examine ways to mitigate the impact of the crisis, and compensate airlines for lost revenues like what the US government did after the terror attacks in 2001.
The IATA chief said airports in London and Dubai have started to waive parking fees and charges for repositioning of flights.
He said aid could also be extended to carriers to cover costs of grounding of fleet.
"I am the first one to say that this industry does not want or need bailouts. But this crisis is not the result of running our business badly. It is an extra-ordinary situation exaggerated with a poor decision-making process by national governments. The airlines could not do business normally. Governments should help carriers recover the cost of this disruption," Bisignani noted.