East Midlands Airport lost £1m to the recent ash crisis, according to airport chief Brian Conway. The Castle Donnington hub, which is owned by the Manchester Airports Group, was forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights in April and May, as the Eyjafjoll volcano poured ash and dust into European airspace.
The airport’s bid to reduce its carbon footprint has not been hampered by the loss, however – bosses recently unveiled an ‘Environmental Learning Zone’ in a bid to make green issues more accessible to passengers. The new zone will incorporate easy-to-read leaflets on the airport’s battle against pollution and global warming.
Nonetheless, the ash crisis was a significant blow to East Midlands’ profits. Passenger traffic fell by 31% in April, a loss of around 63,000 regular travellers. Income from parking spaces and on-site retail was also down as many Britons were forced to stay at home. Bosses estimated a loss of £100,000 for each day that flights were suspended.
Mr Conway claims that the ash crisis, the hard winter and the recession have produced ‘two years of downturn’ for the aviation industry. ‘The ash impact has compounded the difficulties that the industry in this country is facing’, he explained. The airport is now requesting compensation from the government.
In April, Eyjafjoll could have sold newspapers all on its own, but the volcano’s activity has decreased significantly since then. The Met Office categorises the eruption as ‘paused’, but warns that the mountain must stay quiet for three months before it can be declared officially dormant.