The Icelandic ash cloud crisis that shut much of European airspace over a six day period last month has so far cost the world economy $5 billion.
The figure emerged from the first day of discussions at the World Travel and Tourism Summit being held in Beijing, the first time the annual event has been hosted in China.
Adrian Cooper, managing director of Oxford Economics, was asked by aircraft manufacturer Airbus to estimate the total cost of the ash cloud crisis.
He told delegates the longest shutdown in aviation history since 1945 had cost $4.7 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with over $2.6 billion of that in Europe alone.
Adding in the $250 million plus loss experienced after the cloud re-appeared for a second time, Cooper put the final tally in lost GDP at $5bn.
The WTTC summit also heard how the fast-improving world economy would benefit travel and tourism, although much of the upturn would be felt in developing economies, particularly those in the BRICS grouping; Brazil, Russia, India and China.
However, there were concerns about over-capacity in hotel rooms in these countries. China alone is planning to double capacity within the next five years.
City Insider at WTTC
Travolution’s City columnist David Stevenson reports from Beijing