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Spanish Business News

The latest business, economic,property, stock market and financial news from Spain. Keep up to date with what is happening with the Spanish economy, stock market, the economic crisis, the euro zone debt sovereign debt crisis and the Spanish property market.

Spanish unemployment rate tops 20 percent: data
30 April 2010

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's unemployment rate rose to 20.05 percent in the first quarter, from 18.83 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, the national statistics office INE said Friday.

The number of jobless soared 286,200 in the three months to March over the previous quarter to reach 4,612,700 people, it said in a statement. The last time the unemployment rate topped 20 percent in Spain was in the fourth quarter of 1997 when it hit 20.11 percent. The first quarter unemployment figure confirms the number which had been posted in error by INE on its website at the beginning of the week. Spain's jobless rate has soared since the global credit crisis hastened the collapse of its labour-intensive construction industry at the end of 2008. The country has the highest unemployment rate in the 16-nation eurozone and accounts for half the region?s job losses over the last two years, according to the European Union?s statistics office Eurostat.

Source: AFP/Yahoo

 



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Warning for Britain as financial chaos spreads to Spain
30 April 2010

Spain's economy was thrown into chaos on Thursday when its credit rating was cut, sharpening fears that Britain may suffer a similar fate.

The turmoil came just a day after Greeces rating was cut, increasing concerns of a Europe-wide financial crisis.

The euro fell sharply and the interest rates European governments pay to borrow money jumped after Standard and Poors, a credit ratings agency, downgraded Spain.

Last night the government in Madrid appealed for calm, promising an austerity programme to cut spending.

But economists fear that events in Spain show that financial contagion is spreading from Greece, as investors are scared off investing in any European country with significant government deficits.

Britains government deficit this year will be bigger than that of either Greece or Spain, and some City analysts believe the UKs AAA credit rating could be cut, driving up interest rates and raising the prospect of Britain being bailed out by the International Monetary Fund.

Yesterday David Cameron, the Conservative leader, suggested Britain could follow Greece into crisis. Greece stands as a warning to what happens if you dont pay back your debt, he said.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, accused Mr Cameron of economic illiteracy. Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, insisted that Britain was in a very, very, very different situation from Greece, because the UK retained its AAA rating.

But Neil Mackinnon, an economist from VTB Capital, said it was a mystery that Britain had not yet been downgraded.

Angel Gurria, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said contagion has already happened, likening the crisis to the flesh-eating bug Ebola.

When you realise you have it you have to cut your leg off in order to survive, he said, telling indebted countries to start cutting spending.

Source: Yahoo/ The Telegraph



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Greece is just the 'tip of the iceberg', Nouriel Roubini warns
30 April 2010

Greece is just the "tip of the iceberg” of a sovereign debt crisis that has the potential to derail a global recovery, Nouriel Roubini has warned.

Professor Roubini, the New York-based academic who was one of the few to anticipate the scale of the financial crisis, told a panel in California that the buildup of debt is likely to lead to countries defaulting or resorting to inflation to ease the burden on their populations.

“While today markets are worried about Greece, Greece is just the tip of the iceberg,” Roubini told the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California. "The thing I worry about is the buildup of sovereign debt.”
 
Although Greece's misreporting of the scale of its own debt has helped shatter investors' faith, the southern European country is not alone in its struggle. The depth of the property bust in both Spain and Portugal has prompted the ratings agency Standard & Poor's to downgrade the creditworthiness of both.

European leaders, led by German chancellor Angela Merkel, the International Monetary Fund and Greece's leaders are scrambling to approve a bail-out for Greece as financial markets drive its borrowing costs higher.

"The ripple effects across the market are now more visible," said Ciaran O'Hagan, an analyst at Societe Generale. "Contagion is amplifying."

Italy's sale of up to €8bn euros of debt today will, according to analysts, provide a good gauge of whether the concerns about Greece and Portugal are spreading to other members of the Eurozone.

Source: The Telegraph



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Expats are financially confident
28 April 2010

A survey promoted by NatWest has 'discovered' what everyone back home suspects and quietly fulminates about...
Percentage of expats who are confident that they will be better off financially in five years

China 89 per cent

UAE 83 per cent

Singapore 82 per cent

Hong Kong 81 per cent

Australia 77 per cent

New Zealand 73 per cent

South Africa 58 per cent

Portugal 56 per cent

Spain 53 per cent

Canada 52 per cent

US 48 per cent

Source: Centre for Future Studies

Nine in 10 expatriates are financially secure as a result of their decision to move abroad, and enjoy salaries up to 20 per cent higher than they would in the UK on average, writes Alison Steed .

Fewer than a fifth of expats would return home, having found that they can achieve a better quality of life overseas, according to the latest NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life report.

Work hours are less intensive, and most have achieved their ambition of improving their lifestyle.

Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking, said: "It seems the grass really is greener for Brits living abroad. The fact that fewer expats say they will return to the UK in the future, compared with three years ago, proves that the pace of life, work-life balance and earning potential of an expat make life sunnier in more ways than one and that expats are weathering the financial storm."

Salaries have gone up on average by 13 per cent for Brits abroad over the last three years, but Hong Kong expats saw their pay rise 19 per cent, with a 17 per cent rise in the United Arab Emirates, and 14 per cent in Spain.

More finance stories from telegraph.co.uk



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easyJet back to full service. Updated: 26th of April 2010
26 April 2010

easyJet back to full service.

Updated: 26th of April 2010 (11:00 GMT)

 

Following the re-opening of airspace across the UK and Europe, easyJet will now resume normal operation from today the 26th of April 2010. Please click here to find out what easyJet is doing for our customers still stranded abroad.

 

Important notice to passengers:

  1. Go to www.easyJet.com before you leave for the airport  

Please ensure you find out the status of your flight immediately before you travel to the airport.

EasyJet.com will always be the best place to find the latest updates on the disruption. Given the unique volcanic and weather patterns cancellations can happen at very short notice as well as reinstating flights so please ensure you visit the website immediately before you travel to the airport. If your flight is cancelled, do not travel to the airport.

  1. Keep checking your e-mails

If your flight is cancelled you will receive an e-mail with information on your options.

  1. Check-in desks will now close as per the usual 40 minutes* prior to departure.

Please note that check-in desks will now operate as normal from today the 26th of April 2010. Remember that airports will still be very busy so make sure you leave plenty of time for check-in.


* Check-in closes 60 minutes before departure at Sharm El Sheikh (SSH), Hurghada (HRG) and Tel Aviv Airport (TLV).

    4.   Online check-in service now operating.

Online check-in service is now operating and you will now be able to check-in online and print out your boarding pass. If your flight is for this week till the 30th of April 2010 then please click here.

 

If your flight is disrupted

Passengers who are booked to travel on a cancelled flight can arrange either a full refund or a free transfer. This is in accordance with our obligations under EC Regulation 261/2004.

  1. Full refund

You are entitled to a full refund of the cost of your flight and any directly related unflown sector within the same booking (if applicable), back to the original payment card.

Claim a refund

  1. Free transfer

You may transfer to another flight within 30 days of the original flight date.

Transfer your flight

Please remember you may also need to cancel separately other elements such as travel insurance, accommodation or car rental.

Finding more information

The best place to find the latest updates on the disruption will always be at www.easyJet.com

Our Customer Services team only have the same information as you will find on the website. Given that waiting times for callers are already longer than normal, we ask you only to contact our call centre to find information on your flight if you are unable to access the internet. This will allow our team to continue to focus their efforts on those passengers without any access to the information and services available online.

To all our customers, we appreciate the inconvenience that has been caused by the Volcanic Ash. We thank you for your patience during this very difficult time and assure you that we are doing everything we can to carry as many passengers as possible to their destinations.

Andy Harrison, CEO easyJet



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Ryanair Backs Down For Now In Battle Over Passenger Compensation
26 April 2010

LONDON (Dow Jones)--Ryanair Holdings PLC (RYA.DB) Thursday backed down and said it would compensate passengers for the costs of being stranded by the ash cloud that closed airspace over most of northern and central Europe for six days, but the battle over rules governing compensation and who will pay the costs of the current crisis is set to go on.

Ryanair Wednesday had said it would compensate its passengers only up to the cost of their air tickets and was prepared to go to court to challenge current European Union rules that state that airlines have a "duty of care" to passengers and must refund receipted expenses for costs incurred due to flight delays if passengers choose to be re-routed rather than taking ticket refunds. Thursday, Europe's largest low-cost carrier said it would comply with the E.U. rules, although it will continue fighting to change them.

"The events of the last seven days, under which Europe's airlines were prevented from flying by the closure of European airspace, highlight how absurd and discriminatory the regulations are towards Europe's airlines," Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said.

Ryanair, which charges low prices for flights but makes money from items like charging for baggage-handling and food, said it should be compared with train, coach and ferry operators, which don't fall under duty-of-care rules. It is at odds with travel operators like TUI Travel PLC (TT.LN) and Thomas Cook Group PLC (TCG.LN), which Wednesday accused low-cost airlines of putting duty of care second to getting their flight operations back to normal. The low-cost airlines argue that they can't be compared with travel operators, which offer higher-priced packages that include hotels and meals, and therefore have a bigger duty of care.

Ryanair's U-turn comes after the European Commission said Wednesday that it would enforce its duty-of-care rule in the wake of the shut down.

However, airlines across Europe are urging national governments and the E.U. to help pay for the cost of the crisis and to consider changing the duty-of-care rules for events that are outside of an airline's control. They say they are prepared to pay for stranded passengers if they are at fault, but couldn't do anything about the ash cloud because national authorities had taken the decision to close airspace.

The regulation "was intended to apply when airlines had individual delays or cancelled flights. It was never intended to apply to wholesale shutdown of the airways system imposed by governmental rulings and without any limitation of time," the Board of Airline Representatives in the U.K., which represents over 90 airlines, has said.

Airlines around the world are estimated to have lost $1.7 billion in revenue due to the crisis, which resulted in more than 100,000 canceled flights and more than eight million passengers stranded. European airlines are estimated to have lost close to EUR1 billion in revenue.

"It is an extraordinary situation exaggerated with a poor decision-making process by national governments," Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said Wednesday. "The airlines could not do business normally. Governments should help carriers recover the cost of this disruption." IATA represents some 230 airlines world-wide comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.

The E.U. and some national governments have indicated that they will look at claims for compensation due to the ash crisis, but only once the situation has normalized and carriers have covered the initial costs. It has said aid to airlines and passenger rights, however, are two separate issues.

"Ryanair has long campaigned for these reimbursements under passenger rights legislation to be limited to the ticket price paid in the same way they are for train, coach and ferry operators," Ryanair's O'Leary said. "We will continue to work through the European Low Fares Airlines Association and other industry bodies to persuade the European Commission and the European Parliament to alter this regulation to put this reasonable limit on these reimbursement claims."

Thursday, airlines across Europe were still laying on extra aircraft to try and repatriate passengers stranded for the past week. Most of Europe's airports were open and returning to normal, although some airports in Norway, Sweden and Scotland were closed Thursday morning due to a patch of higher ash concentration above the North Sea.

Eurocontrol, which coordinates air safety, said it expects European air traffic to be at almost normal levels of between 28,000 and 29,000 flights Thursday. About 22,189 flights, or 80% of scheduled traffic, had flown Wednesday, it said.

Source: Wall Street Journal



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Banks help stranded volcano fliers
21 April 2010

Banks have come out in support of their customers as news emerged of a new cloud of volcanic ash yesterday.

RBS/ NatWest (including Direct Line and Churchill) will not offer its customers coverage for these added expenses if their airline or insurer refuses to pay out (see below).

UK airports remain closed as heavy flight restrictions stay in place, which could mean hundreds or even thousands of pounds in unexpected costs for families trapped abroad.

Even though travel policies do not usually cover expenses related to 'exceptional circumstances' like a natural disaster, banks will help to meet the costs of extra hotel bills and expenses in the case of those customers with travel insurance policies with their bank, as a goodwill gesture.

However, this is not a guarantee all expenses will be covered: customers are advised not to overspend and keep all receipts for costs incurred.

Those who have taken out a policy with an insurer who refuses to pay out can still rely on the majority of banks to assist them in some way: many are offering to extend their customers' credit lines or refund any bank or credit card charges as a result of extra costs.

The eight million customers believed to be stranded by the ash cloud should first contact their airline or tour operator, as well as their travel insurance provider, if different from their bank.

The British Bankers' Association said: 'Banks are putting arrangements in place to help their customers and, in most cases, will deal with requests for additional finance or claims for charges to the waived on an individual case by case basis. Anyone who is concerned should contact their bank – the number for calls from overseas is generally to be found on the back of debit and credit cards.'

 

Confused over whether you can reclaim funds spent on hotel costs from your credit card provider? Don't get your hopes up...

 

EMERGENCY SUPPORT OFFERED:

 

Co-operative Financial Services
1) Customers of the Co-operative Insurance covered on an ex-gratia basis for cancellation of flights and/or accommodation. As will customers with a Co-operative or Smile packaged current account.
2) Increased credit card limits
3) Refunds of ATM fees
4) Favourable consideration of overdraft requests

NatWest/ RBS
1) Will not consider reimbursement for expenses incurred while waiting to be flown home. If you are stuck in the UK, have an insurance policy and are unable to get a refund on an accommodation abroad which you have been unable to use, it will consider reimbursing you for this.
2) Increased credit card limits
3) Refunds of ATM fees
4) Favourable consideration of overdraft requests

Lloyds Banking Group
1) 'Extra support' for those abroad who have a Lloyds TSB travel policy or are eligible for travel cover through its Silver, Gold, Platinum or Premier current accounts (i.e. reimbursement for any additional 'reasonable costs').
2) Increased credit card limits
3) Refunds of ATM fees
4) Favourable consideration of overdraft requests

Santander
1) Yet to declare if any insurance support for those trapped abroad offered
2) Increased credit card limits
3) Yet to declare refunds of ATM fees
4) Favourable consideration of overdraft requests

Nationwide
1) Yet to declare if any support offered

HSBC
1) Customers who have travel insurance policies with HSBC and its subsidiaries M&S Money and First Direct will be covered for additional expenses, subject to assessment. Customers with HSBC Premier and Advance services, M&S Premium Club and firstdirectory members are also covered.
2) Yet to declare if other support offered.

Barclays
1) The bank will consider 'claims for delayed departures as a goodwill gesture' for those customers with travel insurance policies.
2) Increased credit card limits
3) Refunds of ATM fees
4) Favourable consideration of overdraft requests



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Iceland volcano: airport by airport
21 April 2010

Twelve hours after the ban on flights over Britain was lifted, airlines are struggling

At Heathrow, 22 British Airways flights arrived between midnight and 8am along with one Iberia flight, one Qatar Airlines flight, one Delta flight and one Gulf Air flight.

Between around 7am and 10am, around seven flights departed or were due to depart and 17 were scheduled from a total of more than 200. Other listings told passengers to contact their airline - something many claim they have struggled to do.
 
At Terminal 3, passengers hoping to fly out were forced to wait in queues outside the airport building, marshalled by uniformed staff from the airport operators BAA and individual airlines. Many had been there since the early hours of the morning and had wrapped themselves in sleeping bags, blankets and scarves to cope with the cold conditions.

Although the majority were in good spirits, there were some angry outbreaks and one woman was said to have collapsed in the queue.

One passenger, Ron Rowe, 59, from Caterham in Surrey, was hoping to fly to Istanbul for a holiday with his wife.

"We were due to fly this morning but it looks like it's now cancelled," he said. "We've been standing here for hours and they just keep asking us what airline we're travelling with and whether they told us to come to the airport. We couldn't get hold of our airline, Turkish Airlines, but the website said the flight was confirmed so we came to the airport and now they're refusing to let us in - they say it's for health and safety reasons but it's empty in there and it's freezing out here and they're making us stand for hours. What about our health and safety? There's a mother with a young baby who's been here for hours and one woman's just collapsed. It's appalling."

Olivia Thompson, 26, a teacher, and Camilla Ayling, 27, a speech therapist, both Australians living in Fulham, West London, were hoping to travel to Anzac Day celebrations in Istanbul on the same Turkish Airlines flight but on arriving at the airport, found their flight was cancelled.

They sat on the floor outside the airport swaddled in sleeping bags eating Vegemite sandwiches. "We've been here since 2am - they told us to come but now are refusing to even speak to us or even put us on standby for another flight," Miss Thompson said. "They just keep telling us to speak to our travel agent but we booked our flight online. We're not really sure what else we're supposed to have done."

Peter and Jackie Thomkins, from Loughborough in Leicestershire, were due to fly to Toronto with Air Canada and left for the airport when they were told their flight was scheduled but arrived to find it was cancelled. "We thought it might be cancelled but we felt we still had to go through the motions," Mr Tomkins said. "We've kept up our end of the bargain so hopefully they'll keep up theirs and get us there at some stage."

Lisa Ko, 27, an IT worker from Liverpool, was due to fly to Delhi with Air India and checked the Heathrow website before taking a coach to London last night. "It said my flight was scheduled," she said. "I knew there was disruption but it was saying it would fly and I didn't want to miss it. I have been calling the airline for two days but have not got through so I don't know if I'll get a refund. They haven't told us anything."

The arrivals hall of Terminal 3 ressembled a campsite, with passengers in transit setting up makeshift beds with donated yoga mats and blankets. Some have been sleeping in the terminal for six days since the Icelandic volcano eruption left them stranded and have become friends, singing the Phil Collins ballad "One More Night" and joking about the delays.

Lengthy queues of passengers were snaking through Gatwick airport as people arrived more than four hours early to check onto flights.

The airport is expecting 714 to take off and arrive today - around 75,000 passengers. A full day has up to 900 flights. A spokeswoman said: "At the moment we are open and fully operational and operating with no delays but we advise passengers to confirm flights before coming to the airport. There might be cancellations throughout the day. It is a dynamic situation."

At 3am this morning 4000 passengers were either heading for or leaving the airport.

Manchester airport, which normally handles around 70,000 passengers a day, was operating at around a third of its normal capacity 12 hours after re-opening for flights.

There had been some 200 “air traffic movements” since the lifting of the six day ban on using airspace, although many were empty jets sent out by tour operators to rescue stranded holidaymakers.

Extra airport staff were on hand to help people turning up in the departures hall and the atmosphere remained calm despite a rash of red “cancelled” flights showing up on the monitors.

A spokesman for the airport said: “People are being very patient.”

Those returning from enforced extended holidays spoke variously of enjoying time by the pool in Cuba and being stressed at the uncertainty of their return.

Eddie Austin, from Stoke on Trent, punched the air and said “I’m glad to be back” as he arrived on an early morning flight from Crete.

At the sametime Julian Saunders, from Longsight, Manchester, was waiting with a banned reading “Welcome Back Helen, Naomi and Mary” and greeted his girlfriend Helen Ashworth, a teacher, with a hug as she emerged from the arrivals gate with two friends.

Edinburgh Airport was unusually quiet for a weekday morning, but a handful of check-in desks were open and flights to and from Europe were operating for the first time in six days.

There were flights to Krakow, Copenhagen and Madrid, and services to Birmingham, Heathrow and Dublin were listed.

There were also arrivals from Malaga and Amsterdam, with most of the early overseas flights operated by Easyjet

Several departures were cancelled during the morning while other services were advising passengers to contact their airline.

But the airport was expecting to be much busier during the afternoon and evening, with the majority of scheduled flights due to operate.

An airport spokesman warned it would take several days for services to get back to normal but praised passengers stranded abroad and in the Scottish capital for their “Dunkirk spirit”.

He said the city had coped well and most passengers realised there was “nobody to blame”. He added that it was also clear that people were checking whether flights were operating before turning up.

Source: The Telegraph



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Ryanair Update - 15.00hrs Tue 20 April
20 April 2010

Ryanair Update - 15.00hrs Tue 20 April

(A)Southbound flights from Spain, Southern Italy, Malta and Morocco continue as normal.

(B)Southbound fights from South of France (Marseille) to resume Wednesday 21st April.

(C)Extra flights from the Canary Islands to Madrid scheduled for Wed 21st April and Thursday 22nd April to move passengers from Canaries to Mainland.

(D)Flights cancellations in Northern Europe extended from 1300hrs Wed 21st April to 1300hrs Thur 22nd April.

(E)Flights between Ireland and UK cancelled until 1300hrs Fri 23rd April to allow for extra flights from Ireland to Continental Europe and from UK to Continental Europe on Thursday 22nd April.

(F) Revised handling procedures notified to all airports to eliminate a backlog of passengers as soon as normal flight schedules resume.
 
Ryanair today (Tue 20th April) at 1500hrs confirmed that based on current meteorological forecasts and the continuing emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere over Iceland, it continues to operate Southbound flights from Spain, Southern Italy, Malta and Morocco as scheduled. From tomorrow Wed 21st April, Ryanair expects to resume Southbound flights from its Marseille base in the South of France as well. Passengers holding reservations on these flights at these airports, should continue to present themselves at these airports as normal.
 
Ryanair has today (20 Apr) extended its cancellation of its Northern European flights (UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Poland, Baltic States and North Italy) from 1300hrs on Wed 21st April to 1300hrs on Thurs 22nd April. In addition, Ryanair has decided to cancel all of its flights between Ireland and the UK until 1300hrs on Friday 23rd April in order to use these UK and Irish based aircraft to operate extra flights from the UK to Continental Europe; and from Ireland to Continental Europe from 1300hrs on Thurs 22nd April to clear any backlog of disrupted passengers travelling between Continental Europe, the UK and Ireland.  
 
Ryanair is announcing these decisions in order to give intending passengers as much notice as possible of the likely developments in European airspace over the coming two/three days.
 
Speaking on Tuesday, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:
 
“Our latest analysis of meteorological forecasts and the volcanic ash clouds suggests that the situation across Northern Europe remains unchanged. Ryanair continues to operate scheduled flights in Spain, Southern Italy, Malta and Morocco, and this will continue during Wed and Thurs. We are also going to operate a number of extra flights between Madrid and the four Canary Islands (Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife) on Wed and Thurs to allow disrupted passengers the choice to return to Mainland Europe from the Canary Islands where they may continue their return journeys at their own discretion and expense.
 
“We remain hopeful that changing winds and a better analysis of the extent of these volcanic ash clouds will allow Ryanair to operate a substantial proportion of our scheduled flight operations in Northern Europe from 1300hrs on Thurs. We have decided to cancel our scheduled operations between Ireland and the UK until 1300hrs on Friday, since most passengers travelling between Ireland and the UK can switch to coach and ferry alternatives, and this will allow us to reallocate these aircraft to operate extra flights between the UK and Continental Europe, and between Ireland and Continental Europe from 1300hrs on Thurs until 1300hrs on Friday, to try to clear any backlog of disrupted passengers between the UK and Europe and between Ireland and Europe.
 
“We presently hope to resume our full scheduled flight operations (subject only to ATC restrictions and weather forecasts) by 1300hrs on Friday 23rd April and we have issued instructions to all of our airports that our immediate priority will be to ensure that no seat operates empty, while there are backlogs of disrupted passengers wishing to travel. Accordingly Ryanair will be operating extra flights on those routes where we believe there are significant numbers of disrupted passengers. Ryanair will also be suspending all airport check-in and baggage fees during the initial days so that our handling agents can prioritise getting flights out on time and processing standby passenger lists. Similarly, while we will consider all passenger requests for reimbursement of reasonable receipted expenses over the past week, any such reimbursement will be limited to the original air fare paid by each passenger.
 
“I again wish to apologise sincerely to all Ryanair passengers for the disruptions they have suffered over the past seven days, and to assure them that we are working around the clock to provide them with as much information as we can, as early as we can, in order to minimise the disruptions and inconvenience they are suffering. We continue to prioritise the safety of our passengers, crews and aircraft both prior to and following their return to service. Ryanair hopes to operate a number of test flights across Europe either late tomorrow (Wed 21st Apr) in order to verify and satisfy ourselves that it is safe to resume flight operations in Northern Europe on Thursday.
 
“As always all up to date information in Ryanair’s possession is communicated on our website and I urge all passengers to continue to monitor www.ryanair.com for details of extra flights and the resumption of scheduled services on their particular routes.”



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Ryanair Introduces Extra Canary Island Flights to Allow Passengers Return to Mainland Europe
20 April 2010

Ryanair, today 20th Apr, announced that it will operate additional flights on Wed (21st) and Thur (22nd) from Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife to Madrid to allow all passengers who were disrupted on the Islands by the recent volcanic ash emissions to get to mainland Europe to allow them to make their return journeys via road, rail or ferry (onward travel from Madrid will be at each passenger’s own expense).
 
Ryanair passengers who have been disrupted by cancelled flights to/from the Canary Islands now have the option of transferring from their already disrupted flights to these extra Madrid flights free of charge using Manage My Booking: https://www.bookryanair.com/SkySales/FRManageBooking.aspx?culture=en-gb&lc=en-gb .
 
A limited number of seats will be available to passengers who opted for a refund from Ryanair, but still find themselves disrupted on the Canary Islands, for a special one way fare €100 (inc taxes and charges) on www.ryanair.com .
 
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said
 
“Any disrupted Ryanair passenger on the Canary Islands now has the choice to fly to Madrid so that they may continue their return journeys by road, rail or ferry. Ryanair passengers who have suffered disruptions due to the recent volcanic ash airspace closures can now transfer to these extra flights on Wednesday and Thursday free of charge, subject to availability. A limited number of seats will also be available for just €100 for all other disrupted passengers who need to get from the Canary Islands to the Spanish mainland.
 
Ryanair will continue to announce extra flights and revised plans to clear the backlog of passengers as soon as weather conditions and airspace reopening allow.”


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Jet2 Rescue flights: UPDATE
20 April 2010

RESCUE FLIGHTS UPDATE - LATEST INFORMATION

Unfortunately there are no opportunities today for aircraft to fly into the North of England due to worsening conditions caused by the volcanic ash. Jet2.com is working very hard to arrange alternative transport for the following destinations to operate later this week:

ALICANTE, MURCIA, MALAGA, CANARY ISLANDS, EGYPT, CYPRUS, ISRAEL, PORTUGAL and ITALY.

The website will be updated throughout the day once these are on sale – please revisit the website at midday for a further update.

SHARM EL SHEIKH PASSENGERS - Updated 11:45 Tues 20th April

A Jet2.com aircraft is currently airborne from NEWCASTLE AIRPORT to rescue passengers from SHARM EL SHEIKH The flight will operate TOMORROW (WEDS 21ST APRIL) to mainland Europe, with coach transport back to the UK – a further update will follow later today.

FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS UPDATE

Due to the cloud of ash in UK airspace from the volcanic eruption in Iceland, Jet2.com regret to inform passengers we have cancelled several flights as follows:

  • All Jet2.com flights planned for 20th April.
  • Most Jet2.com flights planned for 21st April (see below)

TENERIFE FLIGHTS

Jet2.com have now placed on sale Flight Number LS9023 to operate from TENERIFE SOUTH AIRPORT to LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT via Marseille on the 21st April 2010 at 10:40. There is limited availability, to book onto this please click here and select the flight scheduled to depart on 21st April. (Please use the search again box to select more than one passenger).

Jet2.com have also placed on sale Flight Number LS9024 to operate from TENERIFE SOUTH AIRPORT to LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT via Marseille on the 21st April 2010 at 19:25. There is limited availability, to book onto this please click here and select the flight scheduled to depart on 21st April. (Please use the search again box to select more than one passenger).


If you have an existing booking with Jet2.com and pay to book on to one of the above additional flights, Jet2.com will refund the cost of your new booking. Please email details of both booking references to refunds@jet2.com.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORT

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.com are working very hard at arranging alternative transport for passengers back to the UK as soon as possible, a further update on this will follow shortly. Please watch our website today for an update on these arrangements, we will post information as soon as possible.

Do not go to your departure airport if your Jet2.com flight is cancelled.

For more detailed information on how to refund or transfer your booking please click here.
Important information for Jet2holidays.com passengers please click here.

PREDICTED VOLCANIC ASH COVERAGE AT 18:00 TUESDAY 20TH APRIL

The disruption to flights is expected to continue for at least the next 48 hours. The image below shows the predicted ash coverage at 06:00 Tuesday 20th April as advised by the Met Office.



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Some flights start amid fresh volcanic ash cloud fears
20 April 2010

Some flights are taking off in Scotland, where airports have reopened, although there are fears of a new volcanic ash cloud spreading to the UK.

The first flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow both headed for Stornaway after 0700 BST - among a handful of domestic flights scheduled from Scotland.

Nats said the new ash cloud is causing uncertainty and there was now a worsening situation in some areas.

The first international flight due to leave Glasgow has been cancelled.

Belfast Airport has said it expects no flights during the morning except those heading for the Isle of Man.

Although Scottish airspace is open most of the flights are said to be to destinations elsewhere in Scotland.

The first international flight from Glasgow was due to depart at midday going to Reykjavik, in Iceland, but was cancelled before 0800 BST.

Schedules are constantly changing and passengers have been advised not travel to the airports until they have checked with their airline or tour operator.

Changing conditions

At Glasgow, there was only a trickle of passengers checking in at the airport for the Stornoway flight.

And some of the check-in desks were manned but there were no queues.

A flight from Aberdeen to Newcastle is set to depart at 0825 BST.

Flights from Newcastle are expected to head to Aberdeen and the Isle of Man.

Nats said it would report again at 0900 BST.

It said more airspace over England was expected to become available from 1300 BST although not as far south as London's main airports.

In a statement it said: "The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK.

"This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working."

British Airways has cancelled all short-haul flights on Tuesday but said it hoped to run long-haul flights scheduled to depart after 1600 BST depending on a "full and permanent" opening of airspace.

Source: BBC News



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Jet2.com Rescue Flights
20 April 2010

RESCUE FLIGHTS UPDATE - LATEST INFORMATION FOR FLIGHTS ON TUES 20th APRIL

Jet2.com are planning to make further announcements tonight at 22:30 regarding the operation of rescue flights departing at approximately 11:00 on Tuesday 20th April as follows:

  • Alicante - Belfast
  • Alicante - Leeds Bradford
  • Alicante - Manchester
  • Malaga - Newcastle
  • Malaga - Leeds
  • Malaga - Manchester
  • Palma - Leeds
  • Palma - Newcastle

More information will follow shortly.

Due to the cloud of ash in UK airspace from the volcanic eruption in Iceland, Jet2.com regret to inform passengers we have cancelled several flights as follows:

  • All Jet2.com flights planned for 19th April.
  • All Jet2.com flights planned for 20th April with the exception of evening Leeds Bradford - Belfast flights.
  • All Jet2.com flights planned for 21st April with the exception of morning and evening Leeds Bradford - Belfast flights.

LEEDS BRADFORD - BELFAST FLIGHTS DUE TO OPERATE 20TH & 21ST APRIL

Jet2.com are pleased to announce we have put to following flights on sale:
LS327 from LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT to BELFAST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT on the 20th & 21st April at 17:00.
LS328 from BELFAST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT to LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT on the 20th & 21st April at 18:30.
LS323 from LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT to BELFAST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT on the 21st April at 07:00.
LS324 from BELFAST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT to LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT on the 21st April at 08:30.
To book any of the above flights click here.

PRAGUE FLIGHTS (Ground Transport)

Jet2.com have now placed on sale Flight Number LS9014 to operate from PRAGUE AIRPORT to LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT via road and ferry on the 20th April 2010 at 08:00. There is limited availability, to book onto this please click here and select the flight scheduled to depart on 20th April. (Please use the search again box to select more than one passenger).

Jet2.com have also placed on sale Flight Number LS9015 to operate from PRAGUE AIRPORT to MANCHESTER AIRPORT via road and ferry on the 20th April 2010 at 08:00. There is limited availability, to book onto this please click here and select the flight scheduled to depart on 20th April. (Please use the search again box to select more than one passenger).

VENICE FLIGHTS (Ground Transport)

Jet2.com have now placed on sale Flight Number LS9018 to operate from VENICE MARCO POLO AIRPORT to LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT via road and ferry on the 20th April 2010 at 12:00 (noon). There is limited availability, to book onto this please click here and select the flight scheduled to depart on 20th April. (Please use the search again box to select more than one passenger).

Jet2.com have also placed on sale Flight Number LS9019 to operate from VENICE MARCO POLO AIRPORT to LEEDS BRADFORD AIRPORT via road and ferry on the 20th April 2010 at 15:00. There is limited availability, to book onto this please click here and select the flight scheduled to depart on 20th April. (Please use the search again box to select more than one passenger).

If you have an existing booking with Jet2.com and pay to book on to one of the above additional flights, Jet2.com will refund the cost of your new booking. Please email details of both booking references to refunds@jet2.com.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORT

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.com are working very hard at arranging alternative transport for passengers back to the UK as soon as possible, a further update on this will follow shortly. Please watch our website today for an update on these arrangements, we will post information as soon as possible.

Do not go to your departure airport if your Jet2.com flight is cancelled.

For more detailed information on how to refund or transfer your booking please click here.
Important information for Jet2holidays.com passengers please click here.



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Volcanic ash cloud: Business counts the cost of shutdown
20 April 2010

British airlines and tour operators were left counting the cost of almost a week of airport shutdowns because of the volcanic ash cloud over Europe, as regulators came under increasing pressure to lift the flight ban.

With airports in Scotland and the north of England expected to reope on Tuesday morning, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the impacton the European airline industry had been more severe than the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, with losses reaching £165m a day.

British Airways said the disruption had cost it between £15m and £20m a day in lost bookings and payments to passengers stranded abroad. Willie Walsh, chief executive, has challenged the blanket ban on air travel and went up in a test flight on Sunday evening.

TUI Travel, the package holiday operator, said the flight ban had cost it £20mand would result in further losses of £5m to £6m a day.

Peter Long, chief executive, said authorities had been slow to help businesses. It took five days to arrange a conference call between European transport ministers, while his company has been in "crisis mode" since Thursday, he said.

Both BA and TUI Travel have called on the Government to compensate them for their losses.

The Association of European Airlines expects a spate of bankruptcies as airlines miss out on close to a week of new bookings.

A cloud of ash was thrown up into the atmosphere when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull started erupting last week, causing aviation authorities to ground planes because of potential engine failure from contact with the ash.

Insurance companies do not expect to a lot of pay-outs because business interruption policies usually depend on damage being done to planes or airports.

Shares of BA, Easyjet, TUI Travel and Thomas Cook all fell on Monday. The price of jet fuel also fell as demand dropped.

Source: The Telegraph



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UK Airspace To Start Opening Tomorrow (Tuesday)
19 April 2010

Airspace in Scotland is to reopen from 0700 tomorrow as dust from the Icelandic volcano ceases to affect UK airspace.

 

Sky sources understand airspace in the Midlands will then reopen at 1200 and southern UK at 1800.

Air traffic control company Nats is lifting restrictions restrictions for Scotland and parts of the North of England.

Airspace south to a line between Teesside and Blackpool will also be open.

It's understood that UK airports will then be allowed to conduct operations 24 hours a day until the flight situation returns to normal.

Nats said: "The volcanic eruption has reduced and the volcano is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK.

"Assuming there are no further significant ash emissions, we are now looking at a continuously improving situation.

"This is a dynamic and changing situation and is therefore difficult to forecast beyond 0700 local."

The news will come as an enormous relief to cash-strapped airlines and the estimated 150,000 Britons stranded abroad by the flights ban.

The go-ahead for flights came as airlines pointed to successful test flights through closed airspace as a reason for lifting restrictions.

The British Air Transport Association that includes airlines British Airways, Flybe, Easyjet and Virgin, has written to the govenment calling on flights to be restarted.

"We remain concerned that the approach taken by NATS has been too sweeping and that key decisions have been taken on very limited empirical data," the letter to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said.

"While safety of the travelling public must have the highest priority, we urge NATS and the CAA to examine all available data sources and the practice in areas of the world that have greater experience of operating in areas of volcanic activity with a view to allowing a decision to reopen UK airspace and airlines to resume their usual operations."

The letter also called for government compensation for the airlines.

British Airways had carried out a test flight yesterday and said it has provided fresh evidence that blanket airspace restrictions were unnecessary.

The airline's chief executive Willie Walsh yesterday took a two-hour flight at 40,000ft which turned up no sign of damage to the aircraft or its engines.

But the BA findings contradicted information from military sources.

A senior Western diplomat said several Nato F-16 fighter jets that flew through the ash cloud had suffered engine damage, saying glass-like deposits were found inside the planes' engines.

The crisis is estimated to be costing the European aviation industry more than £130m a day.

Source: Sky News



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Royal Navy To Rescue Stranded Britons
19 April 2010

The Royal Navy is to be deployed to help rescue Britons stranded abroad by flight restrictions.

With the UK no-fly zone being extended until 1am tomorrow, the Government says three ships could be used to help ferry travellers back home.

HMS Ocean will head to the Channel today and HMS Ark Royal will move "later" - with HMS Albion en route to Spain to pick up British soldiers.

Madrid may also be used as a hub for stranded tourists.

Mr Brown unveiled the measures after a meeting of the Government's emergency response Cobra committee.

"I talked to Prime Minister Zapatero and he has offered in principle use of Spanish airports as a hub to bring people back to Britain.

"And we are now looking if we can make the arrangements necessary, the transport arrangements that we will support as a government, coach, ferry and train to get people either from Madrid or another Spanish airport back to Britain," the Prime Minister said.

With pressure mounting to ease the flight restrictions, Mr Brown said passenger safety was "paramount".

Nats says the movement of the layers of the volcanic ash cloud over the UK "remained dynamic" and will provide an update at 3pm.

The Met Office says the risk of volcanic ash heading over the UK will continue until Friday, when the wind direction is expected to change.

However, Iceland's meteorological office says the new volcanic plume is lower and less of a threat to aircraft.

Germany and Italy have extended flight restrictions until 6pm - Italy this morning briefly reopened its airspace in the north only to shut it a short time later.

Denmark said it was opening its airspace above 35,500ft while the Czech Republic said its airspace would be open for 48 hours.

The ash cloud is expected to hit the east coast of the US at 6pm and Canada this afternoon.

Travel association Abta estimates around 150,000 Britons are stuck abroad.

Many of those on holiday over Easter were teachers and pressure is growing on the Government to get them back to the UK.

Click here for the latest travel information.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose three sons are stranded in Spain, said he supported the Government's "wholly laudable" efforts to get people home.

First Choice and Thomson say they are launching rescue efforts to return 5,000 holidaymakers from the Spanish resorts of Alicante and Malaga, via train and ferries.

But pressure is mounting on European governments to ease the restrictions.

Around a third of Europe's civil flights are expected to get off the ground today, according to the intergovernmental Eurocontrol service.

The director-general of the airlines' trade body, the International Air Transport Association, described the European response as an "embarrassment" and said the flight ban was not based on "facts".

Giovanni Bisignani told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "This is a European embarrassment and it's a European mess. It took five days to organise a conference call with the ministers of transport.

"Europeans are still using a system that's based on a theoretical model, instead of taking a decision based on facts and risk assessment.

"This decision (to close airspace) has to be based on facts and supported by risk assessment. We need to replace this blanket approach with a practical approach."

Jim French, chief executive of Flybe, told Sky News the "blanket methodology" for the ban was incorrect and the Government would need to consider bailout packages for struggling airlines.

The IATA says the crisis is costing the industry £130m a day.

Data from the test flights will be considered today when European transport ministers are expected to hold a video conference.

The fall-out from the travel crisis continues to be felt.

A toddler is in a life-threatening condition in hospital after her bone marrow transplant was delayed because of the flight ban.

The little girl, who cannot be named, was said to be in an "extremely vulnerable state" as restrictions remained.

They have prevented critical treatment arriving from a donor in Canada - her only hope of survival.

Former prime minister Tony Blair became the latest high-profile victim of the volcano.

Mr Blair is currently in Israel but was expected back in Britain this weekend.

Source: Sky News

 



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RYANAIR EXTENDS CURRENT FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS UNTIL AT LEAST 1300HRS WED 21 APRIL
19 April 2010

Flight Cancellations Extended to 1300hrs Wed 21 Apr

RYANAIR EXTENDS CURRENT FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS UNTIL AT LEAST 1300HRS WED 21 APRIL
 
Ryanair, today (Sun 18th April) confirmed that based on current meteorological forecasts, and the continuing emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere over Iceland, it has decided to cancel all scheduled flights to/from the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Poland and the Baltic States until 1300hrs on Wed 21 April. Ryanair flights from Spain, the Canary and Baleric islands, the south of Italy (including Pisa, Rome, Sardinia and Sicily), Malta and North Africa will continue to operate just domestic and southbound routes. This advice is based on the current stable weather trends which continue to blow potentially dangerous volcanic ash across the British Isles, Scandinavia and Europe.
 
This decision has been taken by Ryanair in order to allow passengers to apply for a full refund or rebook onto flights later this week, when Ryanair hopes that improved/changed weather conditions may allow normal flight schedules to resume. Ryanair is anxious to give intending passengers as much information as possible, as far in advance as possible, to allow them to make alternative arrangements. Ryanair continues to post regular flight information updates on the flight information page on www.ryanair.com.
 
Announcing these further cancellations today, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:
 
“This spreading cloud of volcanic ash is unprecedented in Ryanair’s experience, and we are continuing to work around the clock to minimise its effects on our schedules and passengers. Ryanair’s flights in Spain, Southern Italy and Northern Africa will continue to operate Southbound and domestic routes.
 
We hope that by cancelling all Ryanair flights over the above affected countries until at least 1300hrs on Wednesday 21st April next, we can give passengers as much notice as possible to allow them plenty of time to apply for refunds or rebook alternative Ryanair flights.
 
We apologise sincerely to all Ryanair customers whose travel plans have been disrupted by these cancellations. We have teams of people sending email advisories to all passengers affected by these cancelled flights to give them as much notice as possible to allow them to change their travel plans. We hope that either the prevailing winds will have changed direction or the ash cloud will have dispersed sufficiently to allow flights to operate safely across the British Isles and Northern Europe by Wednesday afternoon next.
 
Ryanair will continue to monitor the situation closely and will release further flight info and travel advisories to intending passengers on our website at www.ryanair.com.”


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UK airspace shut by Iceland volcano ash cloud could reopen tomorrow (Monday)
18 April 2010

UK airspace may reopen at 7am tomorrow morning, air traffic controllers said this afternoon amid rising hopes that some commercial flights could resume earlier than expected.

There had been fears that no-fly zones could remain in place across parts of Europe for much of the week because of the ash plume caused by the volcanic explosion in Iceland on Wednesday.

Over 20 countries have airspace restrictions, many banning all non-emergency flights but commercial operators, including British Airways, KLM and Air France, have carried out or plan test flights without passengers.

European transport ministers are planning a video conference tomorrow to discuss the results. Gordon Brown is to chair an emergency meeting of ministers at 5pm tonight to discuss the crisis.

A BA flight was awaiting clearance for a test flight from Heathrow this afternoon as authorities and airliners sought to resume services as soon as possible.

Earlier today the National Air Transport Service (Nats) had extended restrictions to 1pm tomorrow, apart from a possible window for flights to the Scottish Highlands and Islands this evening. But it later said airspace could possibly reopen six hours earlier at 7am. It will give an update on its plans at 9pm tonight.

It said: "Conditions around the movement of the layers of the volcanic ash cloud over the UK remain dynamic. Nats is maintaining close dialogue with the Met Office and with the UK's safety regulator, the CAA, in respect of the international civil aviation policy we follow in applying restrictions to use of airspace. We are currently awaiting CAA guidance.

"We are working closely with the government, airports and airlines, and airframe and aero engine manufacturers to get a better understanding of the effects of the ash cloud and to seek solutions. We will of course continue to make best use of any breaks in the ash cloud to offer opportunities to airlines as they arise.

Gordon Brown sought to assure stranded passengers that British airspace would be reopened "as quickly as possible" and warned against rail, coach or ferry operators trying to exploit passengers desperate to find alternative methods of travel. He also said he would be seeking EU funds to help companies stricken by the disruption.

The crisis is also expected to mean that many pupils and teachers will not be back at school from holiday tomorrow. British Airways has cancelled all flights in and out of the UK tomorrow. Thomson also cancelled all outbound flights today and tomorrow.

Nats said: "There may be limited opportunity in Orkney and Shetland from 19.00 (local time) today for some flights to operate under individual co-ordination with ATC. However, it is most unlikely that many flights will operate today and anyone hoping to travel should contact their airline before travelling to the airport."

The transport secretary, Lord Adonis, said: "I am in constant contact with both the Met Office and Nats. They are continuing to work with airlines to ensure they are ready to fully exploit any respite in conditions which could allow some flights to operate.

"Further test flights will take place today in the UK to help understand the extent of the impact of the ash cloud. I wish to establish, as a matter of urgency, whether some safe flight paths can be identified and opened up to flights within the area affected by ash.

Adonis added: "Key transport providers have laid on extra services – both East Coast and Virgin Trains are running extra rail services between London and Scotland while Eurostar, Eurotunnel, cross-channel ferry operators and international coach operators are all also carrying many more passengers than usual.

Adonis also said that stranded passengers with return tickets on EU airlines had rights of assistance, including food and accommodation, and should contact their airline directly. He said: "British embassies and consulates around the world are providing consular assistance to those that need it, visiting airports and working with the local authorities to help stranded UK citizens."

Gordon Brown told the Andrew Marr show on BBC1: "We want the minimum amount of disruption; we want to open up airspace as quickly as possible. We have to work with the rest of the EU to do it because everyone's facing this similar challenge.

"I hope if it comes to finance for companies that are affected by this, we can get EU support from their solidarity fund. I think we've learnt a lot about what volcanic ash and the effect of it can be. These volcanic clouds can be in the sky for some time."

He added: "I'd be shocked if out of this difficulty that's happened, because of the circumstances of the volcano in Iceland, people try to make extra profits out of it. By running more services and by getting more ferries on, it does mean that the temptation of people trying to sell on tickets or exploit the fact that there are very limited number of seats is less so."

The Foreign Office said it was "working closely with the travel industry and Whitehall partners to ensure that British nationals are given accurate and up-to-date advice" and was "co-ordinating closely with EU partners, many of whom have also been affected".

The ash cloud has affected troops returning from Afghanistan. An RAF transport plane flying hundreds of soldiers from 11 Light Brigade at the end of their tour of duty landed in Cyprus. But many were then flown to Bordeaux in France for a coach trip to Caen for a ferry to Portsmouth. Others were being flown to Santander in Spain where they will be picked up by a Royal Navy ship sent from Antwerp to take them across the Channel. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: "We are doing everything we can to get them back to Britain."

Forecasters warned that there was still no sign of a change in wind direction that might clear the cloud, and volcanologists said eruptions from Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano could go on for months.

The cloud has prevented world leaders such as President Barack Obama attending today's funeral of Poland's late president, Lech Kaczynski.

Graeme Leitch of the Met Office said a change in the wind direction might mean flight restrictions could be lifted but there was no indication that any such change was imminent.

Forecaster Paul Knightley of MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, predicted the continued volcanic activity could herald "quite a prolonged spell of problems" in the UK, continuing until Friday.

Source: The Guardian



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Ryanair voted least favourite airline
16 April 2010

Irish airline Ryanair has come bottom of a UK survey of favourite airlines, it has been announced.

A survey carried out by by TripAdvisor found that foundBritish Airways came second to Virgin Atlantic.

The survey was carried out after last month's strike at British Airways.

Singapore Airlines was the third most-popular airline, followed by Dubai-based Emirates and Thomson Airways in the survey of 936 UK travellers by the TripAdvisor company.

Of those surveyed who had been affected by airline strikes in the last six months, 30% were adamant they would never use that particular airline again, while 34% would be happy to fly with that carrier again and 32% were still unsure.

The survey also revealed:

* Passengers who recline seats in a rough manner were the biggest in-flight annoyance followed by badly-behaved children;

* 69% felt overweight passengers should have to pay for two airline seats;

* 84% were opposed to mobile phones on planes;

* 80% backed the introduction of full-body scanners at UK airports;

* 3% have joined the “mile-high club”, with 30% admitting they would like to but 67% saying they would not even consider it.

Source: Irish Examiner



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Eurozone industrial output beats forecasts
14 April 2010

Industrial production in the eurozone rose more than expected in February, helping raise the bloc's economic prospects.

Output in the economy rose 0.9 per cent compared to January, against forecasts of no growth following several months of expansion, according to the European Commission’s statistical arm. Compared to February 2009, production is up 4.1 per cent – the most in two years.

The headline figure comes after a string of upbeat eurozone data. It will reassure those that had feared that the bloc’s lacklustre performance in the fourth quarter – where gross domestic product rose 0.1 per cent – could translate into a renewed contraction of the economy at the start of the year.

“February's eurozone industrial production figures confirm that the sector continues to expand at a healthy pace and provides hope that the slowdown in the wider economy in Q4 will prove temporary,” said Ben May at Capital Economics.

Strong industrial production growth will partly offset the impact of sluggish retail activity, as well as a construction sector that was plagued by bad weather in the first few months of 2010.

But the factory output growth masked discrepancies between different countries in the 16-member currency bloc. The biggest economies, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain were either flat or fell modestly. Greece was the biggest faller, down 2.9 per cent on January and over 10 per cent compared to a year earlier.

Read the rest of the article at FT.com



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Spanish Banks’ Main Risk Is ‘Mass Unemployment,’ Regulator Says
13 April 2010

April 13 (Bloomberg) -- Spain’s “mass unemployment” is the greatest risk facing the country’s banking system, which could become a problem for the economy rather than a support for it, Central Bank Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez said.

“If Spain maintains for a prolonged period these millions of workers out of jobs, the banking system could become an obstacle to achieving economic recovery after being a support for the economy during the crisis,” Ordonez said in a speech today in Madrid.

Spain’s unemployment rate is the highest in the euro area at 19 percent in February, and the country accounts for half the region’s job losses over the last two years, according to the European Union’s statistics office. Unless the country comes up with changes to its labor market to address the “very Spanish” problem of high unemployment, banks will suffer the consequences in terms of higher defaults, less business and a higher cost of financing, Ordonez said.

Ordonez said time was needed to study a government proposal made public yesterday to extend the use of a contract that reduces the cost of firing to 33 days for each year worked from 45 days. While firing costs for open-ended contracts in Spain are among the highest in Europe, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business Index, around a quarter of the country’s workers have temporary contracts.

Lenders should be prepared for tighter regulation on capital levels and availability of funding and they should also make a “special effort” to explain to investors how they are confronting the challenges posed by the crisis, Ordonez said.      “The situation of the financial markets is a long way from having normalized, which makes it vital that banks keep paying special attention to liquidity and financing,” Ordonez said.

Asked by reporters about the impact of increased competition among banks to attract customer deposits, Ordonez said it was unavoidable.

“It’s something that’s almost inevitable,” Ordonez said. “Financing from abroad, not from deposits, is still not back to normal and has got more expensive.”

Source: Bloomberg



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In search of a job
09 April 2010

THE queues at Spanish employment offices have never been longer. For the first time since military service was scrapped in 2001, the army is near full strength. Picking up a gun and risking roadside bombs in Afghanistan is one answer to the problem faced by the 4m Spaniards who are jobless. Unemployment rose again in March, a month when it usually drops. The 36,000 extra jobless were fewer than in March last year, but they still helped push the unemployment rate even closer to 20%.

When unemployment began to rise 18 months ago, the Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, predicted that a job recovery would start at the end of 2009. He has since put his forecast back to the end of 2010. But the Bank of Spain says the turnaround may not actually come until the second half of 2011, when unemployment will hit 20%.

Spaniards are worried. As many as 42% say that unemployment has affected their lives. Some 3.2m are now on unemployment benefit. More than 400,000 long-term unemployed draw just €426 ($570) a month. Their numbers will rise as the more generous benefits, based on previous earnings, run out after two years. Things are particularly grim for immigrants and the young. Some 40% of under-25s are unemployed, twice as many as in other hard-hit European countries. Sebastián Mora, secretary-general of a Roman Catholic charity, Caritas, talks of a crisis of despair. Caritas’s workload of those needing its help has doubled in two years.

When the unemployment numbers burst through the 3m mark at the end of 2008, a senior trade unionist said that 4m would provoke a social revolution. Plenty of conservative pundits similarly predicted riots on Spanish streets. Yet the 4m mark has now been reached and neither rioting nor social revolution has broken out. Even crime rates remain relatively low, despite a squeeze on hiring police officers (for which there are 30 applicants for every job).

Why? Spain has a historically high tolerance of unemployment. Strong family networks help to ease the pain. Mr Zapatero’s supporters also claim that he deserves credit for widening unemployment benefits, even though this has increased the budget deficit. And a vigorous and growing underground (black) economy makes a big difference. The tax inspectors’ union, Gestha, believes that it accounts for more than 23% of GDP and that it grew by 0.7% last year when recorded GDP shrank by 3.1%. The black economy is especially attractive to those still receiving unemployment benefits based on previous earnings. They are often reluctant to go back into formal work until the two-year payment period is over.

Spain has Europe’s most volatile labour market. It has destroyed jobs quickly, but not long ago it was also creating them in unprecedented numbers. Even now, Spain has created more jobs (net) since 2000 than any other big European country, points out Emiliano Carluccio of Carlos III University. But many of those jobs depended on a frothy construction industry. Short of knocking down the million unsold new homes left after the property bubble burst, that will not pick up for many years. In fact, construction is still adding to the dole queues, as projects started before the bust come to an end.

Spain has seen unemployment rise faster than even America and Ireland, where firing is relatively cheap. A Bank of Spain study suggests that this is down to a two-tier labour market, which condemns a third of the workforce to a merry-go-round of unstable, temporary jobs while the rest enjoy ironclad permanent contracts. Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, the central bank’s governor, is among the loudest voices calling for labour reform.

Yet Mr Zapatero has made clear he will not impose this on reluctant unions. And they show little appetite for more than blowing life into an existing but rarely used special contract that reduces the cost of firing permanent employees from 45 days pay per year worked to 33 days.

Mr Carluccio points out that a two-tier labour market is matched by two-tier education. Spain equals other European countries in numbers with university-level education, but a shocking 30% of Spaniards leave school with no qualifications—worse than elsewhere. These people find it hardest to get work. You can see why so many apply to the army, says Mr Carluccio; you don’t need a master’s degree.

Source: The Economist

 



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Spanish cities in debt
09 April 2010

According to figures provided by the Ministry for the Economy 8 out of Spain’s 52 provincial capitals now owe on average more than 1000 euros per inhabitant. In fact last year was a record year for local town halls and regional governments getting into debt with a new record of 34,595 million euros of debt out of which 28,770 correspond to town halls and 5,825 to regional governments. The town hall of Madrid stands out because the 6,777 million euros of debt it has acquired is almost a quarter of the total debt owed by all of Spain’s 8000 municipalities put together.

Last year Spain’s town halls acquired a budget deficit equivalent to 0.5% of GDP. However this is much less than central government which has acquired a budget deficit equivalent to 8.7% of GDP or regional governments which have acquired a budget deficit equivalent to 2.2%. Nevertheless the debt owed by town halls has started to have serious consequences such as redundancies, cuts in services or reduction in salaries.

The problem for town halls is in part down to the property crash because a large proportion of its revenue was linked to the property boom and many town halls used money it received through property sales to finance its ordinary activities. With the reduction in these payments town halls have raised their levels of debt by 2,565 million euros.

In cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants levels of debt owed by town halls has risen on average by 9.4%. In particular, Ceuta has raised its levels of debt by 109 million euros, Málaga by 101 million euros, Sevilla by 100 million euros and Madrid by 93 million euros.

There are 446 municipalities which have raised their levels of debt by more than 100% among them Ceuta and Cáceres. Another 380 town halls have seen debt go up by 50% amongst them Melilla, San Sebastián, Cuenca and Vitoria. Nevertheless almost 3000 municipalities have reduced their levels of debt and another 2,845 have maintained it at zero.

The increase in debt of Spain’s town halls and regional governments means that there are 8 provincial capitals which owe more than 1000 euros per inhabitant. This is the case in Ceuta, Madrid, Teruel, Melilla, Málaga, Zaragoza, Tarragona and Valencia. The provincial capitals which owe the least amount of debt are Bilbao, Toledo and Pontevedra.

The amounts owed by town halls is less than it could be thanks to Plan E funded by central government which in 2009 invested 8,000 million euros in local projects. However, in 2011 town halls will be forced to settle their accounts and not only will Plan E investment come to an end but also it will be time to balance the books and in many cases central government has invested more than necessary which means town halls will be need to repay excess funding.

This week the government signed an agreement with the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) to reduce their budget deficits from 0.5% of GDP to 0.2% by 2013.

Source: Euroresidentes



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Holiday ruined after Ryanair tells passenger 'You can't fly - the ink on your boarding pass is too FAINT'
08 April 2010

A tourist claims she was stopped from checking in for her flight with budget airline Ryanair - because the ink on her boarding pass was illegible.

Sue Craig, 54, and a friend paid an extra £10 for an online boarding pass for a flight to Malaga, which she printed on her home computer.

But when the school teacher arrived at Bournemouth Airport an hour and a half before her flight to Spain, Ryanair staff said the barcode on her pass had failed to scan.

Instead of manually typing in the data, she was ordered to Ryanair's service desk, where she had to queue for so long that the gate closed and the flight took off without her.

Mrs Craig had been due to take a seven day holiday on the Costa Del Sol, but lost bother her £70 ticket and the £50 she had paid in advance for airport parking.

She said she was 'livid' with the airline for ruining her holiday and with the treatment by airline staff.

Mrs Craig,  from Poole, Dorset, said: 'The copy of the boarding pass I printed out was clean and crisp and bold and why it was unable to scan I don't know.

'The guy tried to scan it a couple of times before he told me the ink was too faint and I had to go to their service desk in another part of the airport to get the pass manually validated.

'I went to the desk and there was just one woman who was struggling to deal with three fights that were about to leave.

'I queued for 20 minutes just for the woman to put a line through my name on the passenger log like a school register.

'By the time that happened and I had gone through security, the gate had just closed.'

She added: 'My printer at home is only six months old and the ink cartridge inside it is brand new.



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Ryanair puts up luggage charges in time for summer (and passengers will have to pay to use the toilet too)
07 April 2010

Ryanair is taking no-frills flights to new heights - by charging for lavatories.

All onboard toilets will become coin-operated, forcing passengers to pay £1 or one euro.

The Irish airline is also cutting the number of loos, meaning there may be only one on planes carrying 189 passengers.

It already charges customers to check in luggage, for online check-in, for onboard snacks and for credit card payments.

Ryanair's Stephen McNamara said: 'By charging for the toilets we are hoping to change passenger behaviour so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight.

'That will enable us to remove two out of three of the toilets and make way for at least six extra seats.'

The airline mooted the idea of toilet charges last year but backtracked after criticism.

It also emerged yesterday that its single bag check-in charge will rise from £15 to £20 during the summer holidays.

The £15 fee for checked-in bags will be in operation again from September.

Mr McNamara said: 'We are determined to incentivise passengers to travel light this summer by increasing our checked-in baggage fees for the months of July and August only.

 

Rochelle Turner, head of research for Which? magazine, said: 'Ryanair might claim that they are incentivising people to travel light but we think it is more a case of penalising those families who can only go away on holiday during this time. 

'Flying with Ryanair is not as cheap as it first appears and we would advise passengers to factor in these extra costs when choosing who to fly with.'

Mr O'Leary first suggested the toilet charges last year but the budget carrier appeared to backtrack on the idea.

However, the airline has confirmed its plans in its latest in-flight magazine, although Mr McNamara said the charges would not be coming in this summer.

The confirmation of further charges on board comes just as a new survey has shown that low-cost carriers are charging sky-high prices for food and drink.

Passengers pay 374 per cent more for snacks on flights than they would at the supermarket, according to statistics from price comparison site travelsupermarket.com.

When asked about the price of food on board Ryanair aircraft, Mr McNamara said: 'I would like to know how much Tesco are charging for flights from Barcelona to London.'

Source: Daily Mail



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Spanish unemployment claims at 4.16 million
06 April 2010

MADRID — The number of people signing for unemployment benefits in Spain rose by 35,988 in March, an improvement from previous months which politicians claimed as proof the country is slowly emerging from a crippling recession.

The monthly increase meant a total of 4.17 million people were now claiming unemployment benefits, the Labor Ministry said Tuesday.

It was the eighth consecutive monthly increase but compared positively to the 123,543 new claims posted in March 2009 and the 82,132 registered in February of this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the figures were "the best of the last three months" and "strengthen the idea that we are on the right path."

"If we continue like this there will be a slight increase in employment by the end of the year," she told Spain's Telecinco television.

Spain has plunged over the past two years from being Europe's top job creator to having the region's highest unemployment rate — 18.8 percent — owing to the collapse of its construction industry and the effects of the international financial crisis.

Source: AFP/Google

 



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