That wretched ash cloud

I had to leave Borzée in order to race to Zaventum for a flight to Madrid, so that I could be present at an extraordinary meeting of the EESC’s Employers’ Group (Group I) on the theme of ‘A New Business Policy for Europe’. The Conference was being co-organised with the Confederation of Spanish Employers (CEOE) in the context of the Spanish Presidency. The Group President, Henri Malosse, had kindly invited me to act as moderator for the closing session of the Conference (which is taking place tomorrow). For those who haven’t been following the news, an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano has been playing havoc with flights in northern Europe. The cloud is drifting slowly south and I was concerned that it might reach Belgium before I had departed. My flight was at 14.20 and the lady at the check-in desk informed me, off the record, that they had been told Zaventum would be closing down at 16.00. I breathed a proverbial sigh of relief, checked in and waited in front of a screen. My flight was clearly indicated and then, at 13.40, it suddenly wasn’t. Large crowds were gathering around every available official. I queued and was informed that my flight had been cancelled. No reason was given. I dashed – well, actually, stampeded – with hundreds of other travellers towards the desk where I might, just might, be able to get another flight. But in the time it took us to stampede a few hundred metres, the screens went red – Zaventum closed down. So, sadly, I am not writing this in my Madrid hotel room, as I should be, but in my Brussels office. It’s a great disappointment and frustration for me but of course hundreds of thousands of travellers will have been similarly affected and I wonder what the total bill of this wretched ash cloud is going to be. Meanwhile, you can find out more about the Madrid event here.


  1. Saz

    It’ll be around 275 million euro.

  2. Martin

    But we don’t yet know how long it will last!

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