First Iceland’s banks defaulted on their debt and Iceland’s population voted not to make good.  Now an Iceland volcano puts Europe’s fragile recovery at risk. 

However there are wider implications as disruptions are multiple and potentially critical for airlines and tourist dependent economies in southern Europe and elsewhere.   The exhibition industry is already hard hit as the ‘Hannover Messe’ and ‘Bauma’ opened this week in Germany, while the London Book Fair is half empty and even a shipbuilding exhibition in Japan is devastated because most of the exhibitors are European and couldn’t get there.

The most urgent problem is to repatriate over a quarter of a million tourists who cannot return home from their Easter vacations, because aviation is grounded.   While individual countries such as Germany have ramped up domestic rail capacity, Europe’s fragmented rail transport system is unable to lift capacities on short notice across borders, especially across the English Channel.  It took five days until European transport ministers finally got their act together to deal with the situation.   Of little comfort to people who are stuck at airports and railway stations.  Private enterprise such as car rental, hotels (in large cities) and bus companies are booming, but business is stalled because thousands of professionals have been unable to return to their workplace.  Some companies are starting to shut down assembly lines because of part shortages (deliveries depend on ‘just in time’ air cargo). Demands for compensation for losses from airlines and other affected industries are looming, because on Monday EU officials acknowledged flaws in the computer models that led them to ground thousands of flights after a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Source:  BIIA editor stuck in Paris like thousands other travellers (picture above)

BIIA Newsletter April II – 2010 Issue