Press release -
Gatwick Car Hire Blames Eyjafjallajokull Volcanic Ash for Bookings Slump
London, England – May 28, 2010 – European air travel efficiency was further compromised last week by a plume of ash stretching hundreds of miles from the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland. British air travel continues to struggle with National Air Traffic Services (NATS) delaying or cancelling some flights with airspace hampered by a dense ash cloud.
NATS announced recently that British air travel was down more than 20 percent in April. This was largely due to 6 days of flight restrictions and the ripple effect of travelers being stranded for days throughout Europe. The trend continues as travelers delay and cancel trips to avoid the inconvenience and uncertainty, especially through London.
"Bookings have plummeted since the volcano began spewing millions of cubic metres of ash over European airspace,” said Michael Hector, PR spokesman for Gatwick Car Hire
With no foreseeable end to the eruption, travel-related businesses are bracing for the slowest summer travel season in years. Those going on holiday are not taking chances of being inconvenienced by cancelled flights and overpriced lodging. Instead, they are likely staying close to home.
"I expect this summer many people will play it safe and remain in the UK rather than risk being stranded abroad, especially when you consider reports of hotels abroad tripling their rates when holiday makers couldn't return home," said Hector. "Who would want to go through the added stress of haggling with hoteliers during another ice cloud crisis?"
The possibility of a long-term impact on Northern European air space has consumers and businesses concerned. Flights have been delayed and cancelled by officials on multiple occasions, depending on which direction the wind blows the ash. Many airports have simply shut down, leaving booked passengers with nowhere to go.
After weeks of disrupted air travel, NATS has been criticized for being too cautious and restricting more flights than necessary. The agency announced earlier this week that it would allow planes to fly in higher ash cloud densities. This is good news for weary would-be travelers who want things to go back to normal soon. At last count, more than 750,000 European passengers had been disrupted from their flight plans.
Small tremors have been detected since Eyjafjallajokull first erupted in March, signaling it will stay active at least for the near future. If the volcano undergoes predicted changes, the amount of ash produced could decrease as the amount of lava spewed forth increases.
That may not matter to British travelers who have decided to stay home or go to destinations where they can drive, regardless of the air traffic conditions. Anger at businesses who took advantage of people stranded while on holiday may hurt the travel industry further this summer.
Volcanic activity at the Icelandic glacier is expected to continue for some time, although the magma flow has lessened in the past few days. Scientists are not sure how much longer the event will continue. Its last eruption, which started in 1821, lasted for more than a year.
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