News In Brief

Iceland volcano eruption clouds air, economy

Matt Berger Apr 19, 2010

A massive ash cloud spreading across Europe from Iceland’s erupting volcano is expected to cost the global economy billions before the air clears, experts say.

The airline industry has been hardest hit as tens of thousands of flights have been canceled since the ash cloud from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano started making its way across Europe last week. A NASA satellite image from April 16 (above) shows the ash-clouds devastating path.

Carriers say they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars daily because of grounded flights. The markets responded Monday with shares in airline companies down in morning trading.

Meanwhile, the halted flights are weighing down industries and markets from far flung corners of the economy. BMW’s parent company said it might have to halt US production of some of its cars if it can’t export parts from Germany.

Kenya’s flower and vegetable industry — which accounts for nearly a quarter of the nation’s economy — is also beginning to wilt due to ash-cloud disruptions. The Christian Science Monitor reported today that the industry is losing as much as $3 million per day since products can’t make it into Europe.

Even New York City got into the ash cloud blame game. Officials say tourism-related revenue from things like shopping and eating out could drop by as much as $250 million. And New York City’s TriBeCa Film Festival told the New York Times that many of the stars and filmmakers might end up missing the event.

It’s not just industry that’s suffering. Passengers stranded in cities and airports around the world say they’re shelling out money for hotel rooms and meals after becoming stranded.

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