Following more earthquakes in the region of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, it is looking more and more likely that there will be an eruption, although scientists are still undecided as to what form this will take, and whether it is likely to produce the same ash clouds that were caused by the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in 2010. Advances in science and dust detection, and a relaxation by the Civil Aviation Authority mean that any eruption is likely to have less of an impact than the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, but it is worth considering some of the impacts to ensure that businesses are prepared should there be interruption to air travel.
In 2010 some 10 million travellers were impacted over a 2 week period. IATA have estimated that losses for the airline industry were around US$1.7 billion, whilst the Airport Operators Association (AOA) suggest that airports lost £80 million over the period. Some 95000 flights were cancelled in a six day period. Staff had extended holidays due their inability to return, although this may not have been quite the relaxing time that some may imagine given uncertainty over return dates and additional cost. Additionally, staff were stranded on business trips/unable to attend meetings and site visits. Businesses had to cope with delays in the supply chain; perishable goods, such as fresh food, flowers and drugs were delayed, with a significant impact on some African economies.
Thus, it is timely to consider the impact that any widespread flight cancellations may have for your business. How resilient is your supply chain, and are alternate routes for transportation viable. Can your business cope with prolonged staff absences, and what will the impact be on those staff who are due to go on holiday? How will business travel be impacted, and do you have adequate remote working capabilities? Are your Business Impact Analysis and Business Continuity Plans up-to-date? At what point should you invoke your Incident/Crisis Management teams, and are you already monitoring this situation in the context of potential business disruption?