Fire and Iceland

After a fairly calm 200 years the Eyjafjallajokull volcano started to erupt again last month. Thrill seekers from around the world flocked to Iceland. They took super jeeps, buses, and helicopters to check out the now active volcano. Many said the serene feeling of being there was indescribable. Tour guides and charter companies made small fortunes while the country started paying back its debts. During the past 2 months Iceland’s economy was starting to bounce back. Like the majority of the world Iceland was affected by the recession, however with the first eruptions from volcanoes that had been quiet for the most part, it saw a resurgence in the economy. Then last week came the big one!

The eruption last week has put a stop to all travel in and out of Europe! Officials say that it is unsafe to fly through the ash because it could cause the engine of a plane to shut down. Therefore over 700,000 people have been grounded with flight plans delayed indefinitely. By far this is the largest disruption of travel the world has seen so it has been unclear on exactly how to handle the situation. The bottom line is everyone is losing money. British Airways is losing 20 million pounds a day. Air France-KLM started doing its own test runs yesterday and hopes to present the results to government officials when they convene tomorrow. They are being proactive because they can’t afford to lose any more than the euro35 million they already have been losing each day.

The true casualties of this event have been the travelers. We at the Inn at the Peachtrees have some travelers stranded with us and are hoping we can do everything to make their stay as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately not everyone has been able to say the same. With some hotels almost tripling their room rates and the unforeseen expense of nearly an additional week abroad, travelers are weary and running out of money fast! Some airlines are reimbursing passengers for their expenses and providing meal vouchers. The American Red Cross has set up camp at the Kennedy International Airport providing blankets and incidentals. Hopefully by the end of the week things will be resolved, and everyone resumes safely with their travels.

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