Natural events and industrial action hampered recovery of the European airline industry last year, new figures show.
The Association of European Airlines estimates that the industry grew traffic by 2.5% last year to 335 million. However, factors such as the Icelandic volcano eruption, the heavy December snow falls and industrial action at British Airways led the AEA to estimate an underlying growth rate of five to six per cent.
Figures produced by Eurocontrol, the air traffic control body, estimate that 160,000 flights within Europe were cancelled during 2010. Of these, 100,000 were attributed to the volcanic eruption, but the remaining 60,000 represented a 150% increase over the previous year’s level of cancellations.
The AEA said that during the first part of the year, regardless of the ash cloud traffic, the losses of 2009 were not being recovered and that in the second half, the recovery remained “extremely weak”.
It added: “The resilience shown by the market in bouncing back after 9/11 and again after Gulf War 2 and SARS has so far not been in evidence.”
The AEA is anticipating a “very small” operating profit for its members in 2010 but warns that the figure will represent a spread from “impressive turnarounds” for some and significant losses for others.