The British Airport Authority’s (BAA) monthly traffic figures have revealed the true extent of the disruption caused by the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjoll.
Despite its newfound infamy, Eyjafjoll has suddenly become very boring. Media coverage of the mountain’s spluttering has been overwhelming, and every second or third press release by UK airlines seems to have something to do with volcanic ash.
The attention is warranted – Eyjafjoll is still coughing at the bleak Icelandic sky, even today – but a month of press reports about stranded passengers, flight cancellations and unhappy airline bosses is enough to make the fineries of UK politics seem very interesting indeed. Of course, the bad news keeps rolling in.
During April, Glasgow Airport lost 29% of its regular flyers to volcanic ash, more than any other BAA airport. Edinburgh and Aberdeen, two of the largest airports in Scotland, lost 28% and 26% of their customers respectively, in what has come to be known as the worst travel crisis since the Second World War.
Southampton Airport achieved top marks for the second month in a row, despite losing 19% of its passengers. Heathrow was down 21% on the same period last year, whilst Stansted lost just over 24% of its customer base. Even distant Naples, BAA’s only continental airport, suffered a slump in passenger numbers during April.
Glasgow’s continuing problems stem from the isolated nature of many of its domestic destinations. The Abbotsinch hub offers flights to Benbecula and Tiree airports on the Outer Hebrides, two sites that have endured frequent closures since Eyjafjoll began erupting in April.