Monday 11 December 2017

Path from check-in to aircraft is now likely to be even more arduous

A soldier passes the EgyptAir flight check-in desk at Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, France, yesterday. Photo: Bloomberg
A soldier passes the EgyptAir flight check-in desk at Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, France, yesterday. Photo: Bloomberg
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The EgyptAir disaster is unlikely to cause too much turmoil for airlines already well versed in dealing with the immediate fallout from such events.

But what the crash will do - if it's proven to be a terror attack - is heighten already strict security at airports, especially in France with the Euro finals coming up.

More checks will make the process of navigating the path from check-in to aircraft even more arduous, especially for families planning to jet away for their holidays, or heading home.

Following the bombings in Brussels, airlines were faced with the dual challenge of serving the city while Zaventem Airport remained closed and dealing with the impact on future bookings.

For example, Ryanair diverted its Zaventem schedule to Charleroi during the airport closure.

But airline-related shares were not pummelled on European stockmarkets yesterday either, despite an overall drop in travel stocks on the back of the EgyptAir crash.

Shares in IAG, which owns Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, were 2.3pc lower in London.

But in Dublin, shares in Ryanair actually closed marginally higher. Air France-KLM also escaped any significant decline, with its shares slipping by just 1pc.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary recently estimated that the Brussels attacks, coupled with ongoing air traffic control strikes, probably cut the airline's profits by between €30m and €40m during the final quarter of its financial year.

IAG said last month that the impact of the Brussels attacks had lingered into the second quarter of the year. That, combined with reduced demand for business travel to oil-producing countries, prompted IAG to cut back capacity growth in the short-term. The Paris attacks cost Air France-KLM €70m in lost revenue.

The fact that in yesterday's tragedy, the jet crashed over the Mediterranean, and relatively close to Egypt, will also probably play an important psychological role in how the disaster affects people and their travel plans.

Cormac Meehan, the president of the Irish Travel Agents' Association and owner of Meehan Travel in Bundoran, Co Donegal, said that people tend to focus on the area where an event happened when an aircraft crashes.

So although the jet was en route from Paris to Cairo, the French capital won't be immediately linked to their thought process about where is, or isn't, safe to travel to.

"The Irish traveller is very resilient," said Mr Meehan. "They look at what happens, empathise, but move on very quickly unless it's something that really challenges their sensibilities."

Irish Independent

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