UK business disrupted by volcanic ash

Business disruption caused by the volcanic ash blanketing European airspace has continued into its second week as flight bans remained in place today.

This includes front-line workers such as doctors, nurses and teachers, resulting in a knock-on effect on hospitals, surgeries and schools.

The British airline industry has been hit hard as it is estimated that the flight restrictions will cost airlines about $200 million (£130 million) a day.

Meanwhile, the flight ban will remain in place at least until 1am today (Tuesday 20 April).

In response to the news, British pilots have called for a government bailout of the industry, reminiscent of the banking rescue. The British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) said the financial impact "could not be more serious".

“The government needs to step in and show the same approach it took to keeping banks afloat,” a spokesman added. “If it fails to act it will find that an equally-important foundation of our economy is lost.”

BALPA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have called on European governments to do more.

BALPA said: "The EU needs to act as their delayed passenger compensation scheme was never designed with this situation in mind and is now crippling our industry."

Meanwhile, Giovanni Bisignani, the head of IATA, said: “We must move away from this blanket closure and find ways to flexibly open air space, step by step.”

EU transport ministers are to hold emergency talks by video conference today to discuss how to ease the air travel chaos.

The government has announced that three Royal Navy ships will also go on a rescue mission to pick up stranded British travellers from across the Channel.

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