Monarch Airlines managing director Tim JeansAs aircraft sat motionless beneath a cloud of volcanic ash, it was easy to question the accuracy of information provided and blame various bodies for decisions that grounded the industry around Europe.

However, rather than pointing fingers and then forgetting all that has passed as soon as normal operations resume, it is important we reflect on how, as an industry, we dealt with the situation, and draw some lessons.

We hope there will never be a repeat, but we can be sure there will be a future incident that is similarly far-reaching and will require a response.

One of the clearest needs is for a government group, similar to the emergency cabinet committee Cobra, that could be mobilised as soon as a serious travel situation arises.

The government’s reaction to events last week was slow and the industry was left to fend for itself for days without any intervention or support. We should be lobbying to correct this.

Another thing we need to do as an industry is to look at how we work together, and explore ways in which we could have improved our efforts.

Given the scale of our joint operations across Europe there will, undoubtedly, have been ways we could have worked better to minimise the disruption to stranded passengers.

Hindsight is available in unlimited quantities. However, commercial requirements should have been put aside and repatriation considered as part of combined operations, not with every airline and tour operator acting independently of one other.

I do not doubt the willingness is there, but without co-ordination we have failed in this area.

Finally, the need for a single, European air traffic control system is absolute. I say no more.

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