Ash cloud cost Norwich airport thousands

Jon WelchNorwich Airport lost a six-figure sum as a result of the disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud, its new boss admitted today.Jon Welch

Norwich Airport lost a six-figure sum as a result of the disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud, its new boss admitted today.

But Andrew Bell said he was confident that the blanket closures of UK airspace imposed last month would not return and that any future disruption would be far more limited.

Mr Bell, who took over as chief executive at the airport seven weeks ago, was speaking after some disruption to flights over the weekend and yesterday as a result of the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano.

The disruption came after UK airspace was closed for nearly a week last month, leaving thousands of passengers stranded all over the world.

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'It has been unwelcome. We started our new budget period on April 1 and three weeks in, we were already a week down. The April closure cost us several hundred thousand pounds,' said Mr Bell.

He said the airport had coped by asking staff to take paid leave during the time it was closed to passengers, and would do so again if required.

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'We asked people to take paid leave or time off in lieu to try to offset the fact that they are not doing anything. We haven't had to start laying people off or making them redundant,' he said.

Mr Bell said there was no chance of recouping any of the money lost through insurance, but that he had written to MEPs asking that airports be included in any compensation framework agreed by the European Union.

On the effect of the ash cloud disruption on passengers, he said: 'What it's doing right now is knocking already fragile consumer confidence.

'People were less willing to fly last year because of the recession, but we have seen quite a strong trend in bookings; people are determined that they're going to have a holiday.

'I think it will cause them to book later rather than put them off going. I'm not aware people are saying 'I don't want a two-week break in the sun.'

'I think it will make people a little bit cautious. I don't think it's going to be terminal.'

Has the ash cloud put you off flying, or are you determined to go on holiday as normal? Write to Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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