Businesses greatly affected by volcanic ash disruption

April 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Volcanic ash from Iceland continues to cripple air travel to and from Europe. That cloud of ash is still spewing, making it too dangerous for airplanes to fly over Scandinavia, much of the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Now, businesses and international gatherings are suffering here in the U.S. as a result.

All flights out of SFO to Europe were cancelled on Friday night, but there were still people who went to the airport, hoping for news that they could soon fly again.

Many passengers were stranded, tired, and they lost their patience on Thursday. That is when passengers found out their flights to Europe were cancelled. Travelers at SFO hoped they could make it out on Friday, but only one flight to Scotland did. Another flight to Munich hoping to get out was cancelled.

"[It's] tiring. It is kind of like when you're getting ready for something and you're going there and it's not happening, then going back," said Zura Javakhishuli, a stranded passenger.

Most if not all flights to and from Europe are expected to resume Sunday. However, that is cutting it close for those who'd planned to run the Boston Marathon Monday. Many elite runners are stuck in Europe.

"You know, you don't plan on these types of unexpected delays," said John Faber, from Commerce Guys.

The flight delays are also impacting Drupalcon. The international conference on web site technology, at the Moscone Center, starts Monday. Commerce Guys, which is a French-American company, is a major sponsor. The CEO, along with almost half the staff, is still in Paris.

"It's impacting our team in Paris. Unfortunately they're going to be a little late. They were supposed to be here today, but it looks like they're not going to leave until Sunday, so that is kind of a bummer because I don't think they'll get here until Monday," said Farber.

If they don't make it, the plan is to video conference them in to break out sessions.

Since the volcanic eruption Business At Regus, a tele-conferencing firm, is up 38 percent in the UK and nine percent in the US.

"Maybe they can't travel, they're at the airport, they're stuck there, they call us, they can literally can take a cab here, two minutes. They can get on the internet, they can make phone calls, get onto video conference, so they can still conduct business," said Josh Hippauf, the Regus Center Manager.

UPS and FedEx are also trying to keep up with international business needs. Packages are stacking up at their European hubs.

Friday, FedEx said packages to Europe will be accepted, but will be re-routed and shipments will be delayed.

At SFO some passengers say they're having a hard time getting updated information, so they've found it's best to go to the airport and take their chances.


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