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Celtic economies affected by Icelandic volcanic ash

Trade and tourism lose millions in revenue as Icelandic volcanic ash shuts airports in the Celtic nations.

Trade and tourism lose millions in revenue as Icelandic volcanic ash shuts airports in the Celtic nations.

Scotland and Ireland were the worst affected by the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which threw volcanic ash into the atmosphere and caused intermittent air travel disruption in northwest Europe between 15 April and 16 May 2010.

Aeroplanes were grounded mainly across northern and western Europe amid fears that the ash cloud could damage aircraft engines. Thousands of European and transatlantic flights were cancelled or diverted, affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers and leaving many stranded abroad.

Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and Galicia were also affected by the air travel disruptions as the ash cloud gradually moved southwards over the Atlantic, but to a lesser extent than Scotland and Ireland.

The Irish Aviation Authority chief executive Eamonn Brennan said “This was the first time in 60 years the Ireland-US track was closed. This ash cloud went right over the continent in an area of very dense traffic. We moved pretty sharpish because we're in the business of safety. It was the right thing to do in the circumstances."

According to Ireland's Central Statistics Office, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull caused a fall of almost 25% in the number of visitors coming to Ireland during the volcanic ash disruption of April and May. That could cost costing the Irish economy up to €500 million a week in lost revenues.

Ireland's two main airlines, Ryanair and Aer Lingus, lost €6m and €5m per day respectively as most of their fleet was grounded.

The struggling Irish tourism sector, already hit by the recession and the floods earlier this year, said the loss of revenue from arriving passengers was an estimated €20m a week.

Business were badly affected as international meetings were cancelled and thousands of workers failed to turn up at their desks after being stranded abroad.

The Irish Exporters Association said their sector was severely affected by the travel disruption as Irish companies export €95m of goods by air every day.

Both the Irish and the Scottish governments set up emergency planning taskforces to deliver additional rail, bus and ferry services for passengers and business.

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