The FINANCIAL — In April 2010 the recovery in passenger and cargo activities was significantly perturbed by the shut down of European airspace following the eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjöll.
"Flights were almost completely suspended for four days, and highly disrupted for a further three. Throughout the crisis, the group made every effort to inform, assist and repatriate its customers, notably by putting on a large number of additional flights. The net impact on operating income is estimated at €35m per day of completely suspended operations," Air France-KLM says.
Activity during the month saw three phases. Up until the ash crisis, traffic continued the positive trend of the previous month, with a 1.1% rise for capacity down by 1,4%. Unit revenue per available seat kilometer (RASK) excluding currency was strongly up on a year earlier. Traffic collapsed during the seven days of the crisis. Once flights resumed, the recovery was gradual due to the number of cancelled journeys during the crisis. Traffic therefore fell 15.9% for the month as a whole, while capacity was down by 15.3%. The load factor declined by 0.6 points. Total passengers amounted to 5.0 million (-20.3%). However, despite this significant disruption, RASK excluding currency impact was up on last year. Forward bookings for the next few weeks are showing a positive trend.
On the Americas network traffic fell 15.9% with capacity down by 15.5%. The load factor declined by 0.4 points to 85.0%.
Traffic on the Asia network declined by 13.0% with capacity down 10.3%. The load factor gave up 2.6 points to 83.5%.
The Africa and Middle East network was similarly affected with a 14.2% drop in traffic, while capacity was down by 15.7%. The load factor gained 1.3 points to 80.1%.
On the Caribbean and Indian Ocean network, traffic declined by 10.2% with capacity down by 8.2%. The load factor dropped 1.7 points to 78.9%.
The European network was the longest affected by the airspace shut down, and saw traffic drop by 23.5% for capacity down 22.8%. The load factor stood at 69.7%, down 0.6 points.
The shut down of European airspace led to a 14.7% reduction in capacity. However, cargo was relatively lightly affected because the majority of goods were able to be stocked until flights resumed. Moreover cargo flights resumed earlier than passenger flights. Traffic therefore declined by just 2.0%, while the load factor gained 9.1 points to 70.5%. Unit revenue per available ton kilometer (RATK) was up strongly compared with April 2009.