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Connecticut travelers are coming home

Good news this morning, April 22nd: the group of 166 students and their chaperons from a Branford, Connecticut high school is finally able to start making their way home. After an unexpected extension of their trip to Italy, the school choir is slowly finding passage back to Connecticut.

Citizens of many nationalities are finding themselves stranded around Europe, due to the volcanic eruptions in Iceland that began a week ago.

“Under the EU's passenger bill of rights, airlines who cancel their flights are obliged to refund travelers for the price of their ticket – or provide hotel, food, and other amenities until they are rerouted…But whether or not this will actually happen remains unclear as passengers rarely need accommodation for more than a night, and many insurance companies do not cover airline or individual claims arising from ‘adverse weather conditions.’"

It is being reported that, during each day of this disruption, at least 1.2 million travelers worldwide have faced major disturbances to their travel. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) calculates that 29% of global travel has been impacted.

The interruption in air travel is being said to cost the airlines internationally $1.7 billion as of Tuesday, according to Giovanni Bisignani, Chief Executive Officer of IATA in a press release Wednesday.

“I am the first one to say that this industry does not want or need bailouts. But this crisis is not the result of running our business badly. It is an extra-ordinary situation exaggerated with a poor decision-making process by national governments. The airlines could not do business normally. Governments should help carriers recover the cost of this disruption,” said Bisignani.

It is anticipated that, despite the fact that airspace over Europe is slowly being reopened, it will take another week--or longer--to get flight schedules back on track. “About 95,000 flights have been canceled since the volcano in Iceland erupted last week. It could now take several weeks for airlines to work through the backlog of passengers, analysts said, provided the volcano does not act up.”

USA Today reports that some European airlines are starting to get in line for aid. “The head of British Airways likened the need for help to the days after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001….U.S. airlines, which have probably suffered a revenue hit approaching $250 million, have so far not made a similar request for government aid.” However, it is likely that they are not far behind.

For now, numerous families in Connecticut--like families around the globe--are soon to be reunited.


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