All travel companies which incurred costs during the Iclelandic ash cloud crisis should be included in any state compensation hand-out, ABTA has urged.

The association was responding to transport minister Theresa Villiers’ suggestion last week that the Government has not ruled out providing support for airlines affected by the blanket shutdown of European airspace.

Operators which provided accommodation and covered day to day expenses of holidaymakers during two periods when flights were grounded should be included in any possible compensation package, according to ABTA.

Travel agents also worked tirelessly to support and re-arrange travel arrangements for customers, often opening extended hours and all weekend during the crisis.
Abta head of public affairs Luke Pollard said: “The industry agrees with Minister Villiers’ comments that the ash clouds were an unprecedented event and many Government agencies were involved in dealing with the effects both in the UK and Europe and it is clear the relevant regulations did not work well.

“We welcome the recognition she has given to the exceptional efforts made by the industry to look after and bring customers home as well as refunding and rebooking thousands.

“However, we do not accept that the travel industry should have to bear the entire costs of unprecedented and ongoing natural events which are the responsibility of governments and their consular services.

“Any future compensation package is not only the right and proper thing to do but must also reimburse all those companies who carried the financial burden of looking after affected customers.”