Channel NewsAsia – Monday, April 19
SINGAPORE : The air travel chaos deepened at airports around the world on Sunday as the volcanic ash from Iceland continued to cloud air travel.
At Changi Airport, 120 flights between Singapore and Europe have been cancelled since Thursday, including the 38 flights that were cancelled on Sunday.
Mother and son, Janet and Joe Richardson have been camping at Changi Airport since Thursday.
They were due to fly home to Manchester in the UK on Air France after a month—long holiday in Perth.
“They (need) to get us some hotel rooms. I’ve managed to sleep because I’ve got some sleeping tablets but my mother has been awake for three days. She had 2 hours of sleep last night and that’s it,” said passenger Joe Richardson.
Others who are putting up in hotels are also streaming into Changi Airport, desperate for any information.
However, they did not get very far.
“We came yesterday and there was no one here at the airlines. We came here again today and this is the first time we’ve seen any sort of notice (being put) up,” said passenger Karen Smith.
Singapore Airlines managed to book hotel rooms for all its passengers in the transit areas.
But some passengers are not taking chances; they are still queuing at the information counter hoping to catch the first available flight.
“In terms of having advance bookings — that’s a challenge because it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you are able to go. But customers who have been waiting the longest in transit are the ones that are going to be re—accommodated first when we are able to restore some of our flights,” said Nicholas Ionides, VP of Public Affairs at Singapore Airlines.
The gloom of passengers is also felt by taxi drivers.
Most of them have seen a dip in their takings.
“The arrival flights are not coming. (Takings are down) roughly by 10 per cent,” said one taxi driver.
But food and beverage outlets like Dome cafe at Terminal One have seen an increase in business by some 15 to 20 per cent.
“Because of the flights cancellations, (and) we do accept KLM and Air France vouchers, so that boost up our sales,” said Ann Yeoh, assistant manager of DOME.
Some airlines have been offering daily meal and hotel vouchers to help affected passengers.
While travellers here are trying to find a way out, some Singaporeans who were affected by the flight disruptions in Europe have found alternative routes to return home.
One of them, Ganesh Rajaram, was supposed to fly home from Cannes in France on Saturday.
Instead of waiting, he decided to drive seven hours to Rome and catch a flight back on Qatar Airways.
“It felt quite helpless actually because there’s nothing anyone can do to help you. Every time we went to an airport, there were just cancellations. There were queues of people… European domestic travel was hit the worst, and domestic travel was non existent,” said Ganesh Rajaram, senior VP at Fremantle Media (International Distribution).
“My colleagues are still there in Cannes without a way to go back. I’ve got colleagues stranded in Paris trying to get back to the US.” — CNA /ls