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Emirates 'will not raise fares' to recoup losses

Airline's pledge as 35,000 passengers hit by volcano disruption.
NEWS, Aviation

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Emirates Airline president Tim Clark said on Tuesday that the airline would not increase fares in an effort to recoup losses incurred during the Icelandic ash cloud disruption.

The announcement came as the impact of the volcano eruption continued to cost the carrier about $10m a day in lost revenues and hotel accommodation costs for stranded passengers. About 20 percent of its fleet is currently grounded.

He told reporters in Dubai that the European aviation industry would "implode" if the airspace shutdown continued for three months. He said that Dubai Government would not consider helping out Emirates with its ash cloud-related losses which currently run to about $66m.

Flights resumed on Tuesday to airports in France, Italy and Switzerland while German flights were being rerouted to Vienna.

About 35,000 Emirates passengers had been affected by cancelled flights since Thursday and UK flights were still grounded. Clark said that if the flights crisis continued for two weeks, a total of 250,000 Emirates passengers would be affected.

About 600 members of Emirates' crew were currently stranded across Europe, Clark said, adding that the Dubai Government was committed to making sure all passengers were taken care of as quickly as possible. He added that 49 Dubai hotels had been used to take in transit passengers, which on Tuesday numbered 3,861.

Clark said that the airline hoped to restore full operations in three to five days but it would take longer if the ash cloud restrictions continue.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Dubai carrier cancelled a further eight flights to the UK but said it was optimistic it would be able to resume flights later.

The Dubai carrier grounded its 2.30am, 7.45am and 9.50am services to London Heathrow while the 2.50am flight to Gatwick had also been cancelled.

Morning flights to Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow have also been grounded, the airline's website said.

Etihad Airways said it had also cancelled 21 flights on Tuesday to and from London, Paris, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Brussels, Manchester and Munich.

Qatar Airways said its Tuesday morning services to London Heathrow, Munich, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, London Gatwick and Copenhagen had been grounded.

The Doha-based carrier said it plans to operate a “test flight” to London’s Heathrow airport on Tuesday to assess the risk posed by the volcanic ash cloud. In an interview with Al Jazeera English channel, the airline’s CEO, Akbar al-Baker, said only the flying and engineering crew would be on board.

Bahrain's Gulf Air said it was resuming its flights to London on Tuesday afternoon and to Paris and Frankfurt, scheduled to leave the Gulf state early Wednesday.

The National Air Traffic Services in the UK said on Tuesday that based on the latest Met Office information, part of Scottish airspace including Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh airports would continue to be available from 1-7pm (4-10pm UAE time), and also south to Newcastle Airport.

Restrictions will remain in place over the rest of UK airspace below 20,000ft, it added.

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