Anger Mounts over Volcano Crisis Response

Tremendous Losses for Airports

The flight ban cost Fraport, the operator of Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt, up to €15 million a day. But a spokesperson said that was just a rough first estimate.

And in Switzerland, Zürich's airport operator, Flughafen Zürich, is demanding state aid for revenues lost as a result of the volcanic eruption. Airport chief Thomas Kern said in an interview with the business magazine Finanz und Wirtschaft that his airport had lost around 2 million Swiss francs (around €1.4 million) per day. He said state aid was necessary because the airport's insurance is unlikely to cover economic damage wrought by the ash plume.

The airport's losses are attributed to the fact that 85 percent of its revenues are directly or indirectly associated with air travel -- including landing fees, shops and restaurants. After more than three days of closure, the Zurich airport reopened on Tuesday with a limited number of flights.

In Germany, the country's second-largest airline, Air Berlin, also hasn't ruled out the possibility of requesting state aid.

Assembly Lines Standing Still

Other parts of the economy beyond travel-related business have also been affected. Despite the resumption of flights on Wednesday, assembly lines at a number of factories belonging to German car-makers and auto parts suppliers remained at a standstill. Companies like Opel, Daimler and auto parts supplier Bosch had to suspend some production because they rely on air cargo to deliver parts and components.

A spokesperson for BMW said that production would likely first resume on Friday. On Wednesday, BMW halted production in plants in Munich, Dingolfing and Regensburg. A spokesman in Munich said production would also be suspended on Thursday because of a lack of electronic components that are usually flown in by air cargo. BMW said the assembly of 7,000 vehicles had been delayed by the air travel disruptions, but the company plans to compensate for lost time as quickly as possible.

At Daimler in Sindelfingen, some employees were sent home because of a lack of supplies, but a spokesperson said that logistics and deliveries were being swiftly organized and that the situation should improve quickly now that European airspace has been reopened.

The flight ban has also created problems for Bosch, the world's largest automobile components supplier. Bosch executive board member Bernd Bohr said the production of semiconductors at four plants had been suspended.

dsl - with wires

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