Airlines in Australia are counting the cost of the raft of natural disasters which have affected schedules this year. This week, Qantas said the ash cloud which hovered above New Zealand and the south of the country has already cost the carrier A$21 million. The earthquakes which hit New Zealand and Japan, cyclones, local flooding and snowstorms in the UK have also cost the flag-carrier around A$185 million.
Alan Joyce, chief executive of Qantas, said that the airline had been hit by events on every continent this year. He added that the rising cost of jet fuel and increased competition from airlines in the Middle East and across Asia will continue to have an impact on business. Joyce went on to say that the carrier’s international arm would lose around A$200 million this financial year.
According to chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, Neil Hansford, airlines still have to pay around 80 per cent of their costs whether they fly or not. Grounded fleets only save on a few airport charges and fuel. The latest problems with the Chilean ash cloud will also damage carriers because they lost out on lucrative mid-week business travel. Hansford estimated that the Australian airline industry was losing as much as A$30 million every day.
The tourism industry is also falling foul of natural events and a strong dollar. More people are now leaving Australia for a holiday than are entering the country, according to Tourism and Transport Forum head, John Lee. He estimated that the industry was losing around A$10 million each day.