The first economic benefits of the cloud

The fine particles of the ash cloud due to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano infiltrate the wheels of the economy

If they endanger reactors and cabins, the fine particles of the ash cloud due to the eruption of an Icelandic volcano also seep into the wheels of the economy. In addition to airline losses – the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 230 airlines, estimates that the air traffic paralysis cost the industry more than 148 million euros a day – many sectors are affected by the crisis European sky, although the impact is currently limited.

At the macroeconomic level, “the shutdown of the airline activity is partially offset by other means of transport,” said Marc Touati, an economist at Global Equities. On the tourism side, “many companies are probably penalized but others (restaurants, hotels, booksellers, car rental companies) also undoubtedly benefit” from the situation, says Emma Ménascé, an economist at Natixis.

However, “if this blockage was to last a week, it is clear that the economic costs would begin to become significant, ” warns Mr. Touati. Thus “a lasting blockage would result in stock shortages in certain areas, particularly for food and industrial goods, which would lead to both an increase in prices and a decline in activity”.

According to a study by the TD Canadian bank, the chaos caused by the cloud will have a limited impact if air traffic resumes quickly. The EU predicts a “laborious growth” of 1.7% in 2010. If the difficulties continued for several months, this forecast should be reduced between 0.7% and 1.2%, warns the document.

Asian Economy Affected

French refineries could quickly lower their kerosene production if airport closures were to continue for some time, according to the French Union of Petroleum Industries (UFIP).

The French electrical and electronic sectors, which export half of their production, could be particularly affected.

Some companies, for lack of supply, are already forced to reduce their production. The German automaker BMW has announced a partial suspension of production in three German factories until Thursday, affecting 7,000 vehicles.

The Japanese Nissan will do the same on three production lines in Japan, “for an indefinite period”, unable to import by plane some components produced in Ireland.

The Asian economy is beginning to suffer from this air chaos. “Textile shipments were already behind schedule and are now suspended and we are worried that buyers will refuse them because of the delay,” said the chairman of the Bangladeshi Association of Textile Producers and Exporters.

In South Korea, Samsung and LG said they could not deliver shipments of about 200,000 cell phones worth $ 30 million. In China, thousands of factories in the southern province of Guangdong often dubbed “the world’s workshop,” have suffered many delays in shipments, according to the director of the Hong Kong Industry Federation. Even the sushi industry is affected: Japanese fish importers have been deprived for several days of fresh salmon from Norway.

“COUP DE POUCE” In France

The French government plans to take different types of measures to help companies that have been affected by the blockage of air traffic, said Tuesday the Secretary of State for Tourism, Hervé Novelli on LCI. “Guaranteed loans, accompaniments, thumbs up,” he said, pointing out that “in the end, this volcanic crisis is an economic crisis. ”

He pointed out that this included helping SMEs. A methodology for assessing the economic costs of the crisis will be decided Tuesday, said the Secretary of State. “We are going to finalize this afternoon an evaluation methodology and then we will see how to fill or make sure to accompany [the] economic difficulties,” said the Secretary of State, recognizing that it is for the “very difficult” to quantify the economic consequences of the near-paralysis of air transport.

Mr. Novelli is scheduled to meet on Tuesday around 15 hours in Bercy tour operators (Voyageurs du Monde and Thomas Cook), the airline company Air France, Aéroports de Paris (ADP), the National Federation of the commercial aviation (FNAM), the National Union of Travel Agents and the Professional Association of Tourism Solidarity (APS).

Previously, the budget minister, François Baroin, had said that if the government decided to help the economic sectors affected by the blockage of the European sky, it would be in the European context. Asked about France Info to know if the government could give a “boost” to affected sectors, including airlines and tour operators, Mr. Baroin replied: “The line is rather a decision at the scale European: first to examine precisely the reality of the cost of the volcano crisis, and then a European initiative. “