As a result of air space closure due to the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland,
Finnair had to cancel over 1,700 flights in the last week, disrupting the
travel of over 140,000 passengers. The cessation of traffic for the week and
the process of recommencing it are estimated to cause a loss of 20 million
euros to the company. The losses include the costs of stranded passengers'
accommodation as from yesterday.
However, Finnair opposes compensation of losses to airlines by European Union
"Companies in a weaker economic condition are making strong demands for help. A
subsidy stampede would distort competition, because the risk of airlines using
the system for wider support would be great. We are already seeing support that
contravenes the EU's state-aid rules," says Mika Vehviläinen, Finnair's CEO.
According to EU air services regulation, in order to maintain their operating
licenes, airlines must at all times be able to meet their actual and potential
financial obligations for the next 12-month period.
"We presume that the authorities will check immediately if the companies
demanding support fulfill the conditions of their operating licenses. The
cessation of operations for a week should not destabilize the solvency of a
company that meets the EU requirements," Vehviläinen continues.
"The EU commission has made unreasonable demands on airlines in areas where the
responsibility in fact should rest on member states, but at the same time has
paid scant regard to the fulfilment of operating license requirements and been
sympathetic to subsidizing potentially non-compliant airlines in these
circumstances. For future and comparable situations, there should be guidelines
that are clear and appropriate for both customers and airlines," Vehviläinen