April 20th, 2010
02:07 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) - I bet none of these people ever thought their work would be affected by a volcano in Iceland.

I am at a cargo terminal in Hong Kong.  I'm told about 7,000 tons of cargo passes through this terminal every day and about a quarter of it is for Europe.  But because of the ash cloud, many of the goods can't be delivered to their final destination.  I see an Air France cargo plane on the tarmac.  The executive showing me around tells me the flight was supposed to take off last week.

So far, most of the backlogs are not happening at the terminals but at the farms or the factories.  Some farms are being forced to sell their Europe bound produce in the local markets.  Factories - in China at least - haven't been badly disrupted yet though many here do worry about a potential bottleneck of shipments.  Those who import European components are also concerned their production could stall if the air doesn't clear soon.

Over the weekend, passengers traveling to Europe were stuck in Hong Kong.  One traveler from the Philippines who was supposed to transit to London told me he understood the chaos was being caused by an act of nature but was disappointed with the way the airlines were handling the mess.  He had been sleeping on the airport floor since Friday and was looking for a way to get back home to Manila.  One British family told me the earliest they could get re-booked on a flight to London was in May.  Customer service representatives based here for Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, KLM, and British Airways all informed me the same: If you are traveling to Europe, don't expect to get a confirmed flight till next month.

The airlines are losing hundreds of millions of dollars.  Shippers are re-routing flights to Greece, Turkey, and Spain and transporting their goods via trucks over land when they can. All are wondering, when will the eruption's disruption end?

Which makes me curious: How is your work and life being disrupted by the distant volcano?

Filed under: Business


soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Carlos Avila

    Hey, you, people from China, the volcano will continue with the eruptions for months, or maybe years. This volcano was waked up from a dormant state. The volcano was covered and sealed with glacier ice since the last glacier epoch. But the continuous oil burning, has caused the global mean temperature to increase, causing the global warming, climate changes and glaciers melting. The glaciers were doing the "job", of holding and controlling the plates tectonic movements. The glaciers ice was sticking in into the volcano cracks and fissures like a powerful "GLUE". The ice was holding in certain manner the continental drift. But, due to the glaciers melting the ice disappeared and the plates tectonics now moves freely and more frequent causing the frequent earthquakes worldwide. Several quakes struck under the Iceland volcano, causing it to re-enter into activity again after 200 years dormant. So, due to human activities, the volcano waked up and now it will be erupting for many years. It will also cause other volcanoes nearby to enter into eruptions too soon.

    April 20, 2010 at 2:57 am |
  2. Jean Khong

    I'm working with one of the leading airfreight company and I'm greatly afffected by this. We have to go through crisis management and conference call with customers!

    Our stress have increased!

    April 20, 2010 at 3:56 am |
  3. muhammad aliyu giyasu

    although the scenario is natural. i pray for the quick solutions to it.

    April 20, 2010 at 6:14 am |
  4. Sigurjon

    Iceland is not uninhabitable,and we don´t all wear face masks. • Only a fraction of the country is affected. Keflavik airport is open all the time. • No need to cancel your summer vacation to Iceland • Spread the word. • Life is normal here, this is just another adventure for you to see. • We´ve survived regular eruptions for 1100 years; 22 already in the last 30 years.And the glacier has not disapeared only a big hole in it this eruption is not causing erthquakes elswere big miunderstanding and finaly the eruption is fading out

    April 20, 2010 at 6:24 am |
  5. Cody Smith

    Carlos it is ignorant to think we have the ability to effect global temperatures. Shifts in temperature happen normally in nature and have nothing to do with our 'activities'. Look at the Medieval Warm Period and the little ice age, neither of these events were caused by human interaction. Global warming caused by humans is a scam.

    April 20, 2010 at 6:33 am |
  6. harry

    well... its clear now that global warming has caused mother nature to wake up and stop all acitivty on earth and heal itself , so people stop travelling, chill relax and wait for end of days.

    April 20, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  7. marion

    Its just funny how companies do not have back-up plans. Nice way to do business, with your fingers crossed.

    April 20, 2010 at 7:14 am |
  8. Sency

    these airline delays are getting worse and worse. I feel for those stranded

    http://www.sency.com/airline-delays.htm

    April 20, 2010 at 7:16 am |
  9. Mohamed

    This distruption its just easy when we compire what was happened 2001

    April 20, 2010 at 7:27 am |
  10. Smith in Oregon

    A unexpected bonus, helping to equalize the tremendous imbalance in the Import/Export trade with China. Outstanding, I hope China's cargo is grounded for a size-able length of time.

    Slowing both foreign wars and the great suffering of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cooling the planet and now helping to lower the huge trade imbalance with China!

    April 20, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  11. OMS

    If you are looking at air freight – you best bet is flying your cargo to Portugal and then either ship it or truck it to its final destination in mainland Europe. All the airports in Portugal are still open.

    April 20, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  12. deepwater805

    Hey Carlos Avila!
    I think that you have a point! In fact, I strongly suggest that you go get your buddy, Bigfoot, and head to Iceland to take photos of the "GLUE" that holds all those volcano's together. Then you can go post them on imalooneytoonsdotcom. After that maybe you can beam over to Roswell, New Mexico for the annual alien abduction convention. I'm sure that you can relate. This years hot topic is all about Inner Earth and cool stuff like that. In other words: right up your alley.....

    April 20, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  13. jack

    Can people please learn to spell correctly, it has been like reading paragraphs of children's comments.

    April 20, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  14. Brin

    Working for one of the largest freight forwarding companies globally, its caused a TREMENDOUS challenge for us in the middle east. The vast majority of goods are imported into the Middle East and a large # of that originating from the US and Europe. Both routes are affected.
    Customers are screaming - and it's not just perishable product. It's product for power plants and the oil n Gas sectors that are bringing in spare parts for a 'line-down' situation. This can cost a million usd per day!
    All of the workable options that one would think would work (trucking to Portugal and Spain, etc.) are already exhausted and carriers are unable to cope with the increased cargo loads. PLUS, the main carriers aren't diverting much of their flights to those points. Obviously, the focus is on passenger returns but the cargo industry has a snowball affect on this..... if stuff doesn't move (whether urgent or not) it affects the trade in the middle east (and elsewhere). And, given that it will take WEEKS to get the backlogs reduced on the cargo side, the buildup of goods will continue. We've got customers acknolwedging this and looking at shipping a small pallet sea freight only because they are realistic and know that the chances of it going timely as air freight are slim to none and could get the same transit time at a few bucks cheaper.
    This is an absolute mess in so many ways and the repercussions will be felt for months.

    April 20, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Richard

    Nothing is more important than safety. period. It's priceless.
    Willie Walsh is notorious for being a self serving glutton.
    CNN..I believe it's important for you to also report the high risks
    and dangerous close calls from the past:
    A British Airways jet lost power in all four engines after flying through an ash cloud above the Indian Ocean in 1982.

    April 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  16. danie

    eyja-allflyf*ck*ll volcano

    April 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  17. Gary

    Bet Houdini had sumthing to do with the ice dissapearing. Or maybe just anothe fraud cass from Jacob Zuma and clan. Wel i dnt no so lets just make the circkel beeeega nd enjoy the circus

    April 20, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  18. Edison Bittencourt

    Alternative routes and forms of transportation will have to be implemented considering natural disasters. In critical situations like the isolation of Europe by Icelandic volcanoes alternative will have to be thought. I expect major earthquakes will hit the planet . Also lack of rain may lead to potential famine. Lets get ready

    April 20, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  19. Sebastian

    Wow, this might be one of the best strategies towards world domination.

    Props to Iceland.

    April 20, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  20. Karen

    This volcanic eruption may lead to future chaos. It's really humans fault, we shouldn't use so much energy to cause global warming. This eruption could put airline buisnesses out of buisness for years! There is going to be chaos!

    April 21, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  21. steve m

    Natural shit happens. Sorry. If it isn't a hot volcano it's a tsunami, earthquake, flood or... like Russian roulette really. No business can be prepared for that except for acceptance and quick action.

    April 21, 2010 at 4:21 am |
  22. outsider

    If you have time between flights, think about this:

    Money and logic dont go together, someone said...
    If you take the marginal cost paramid and build it from the start you have to use the "no cost" first or you are on the "no efficiency" side. No cost = perpetual electricity based on gravity and contrasts (mind the cost of land). After you done the most out of the materials: iron, steel and the lightest you have to calculate your outcome in vults. Even if its only the domestic consumption you still need to fill in the industry's demand.

    The perpetual consumption is not only gravity but its also the contrast between materials. like in water plantation.

    April 21, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  23. Nuno R

    well, Mr Carlos may have a point and may have not, meaning that if human activites can influence global climate changes he's right, but if we look at the geological history of the planet we have information that those changes occur without any human activity to blame for.
    My unscientific opinion, based on pure instinct, is that we may not cause these changes but we increase their speed with our careless behaviour.
    If we think of strip-mining and mountaintop removal, for instance, we can see how we can change the landscape, the topography and the ecosystems based on those natural environments. But i know one thing: this is not the moment to talk about this stuff. This the moment to save the economy, right? Sure...

    April 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  24. Jason

    There is a whole lot of crazy going on in these comments.

    April 22, 2010 at 7:22 am |
  25. Imran

    It's not a kind of joke we have 2 pitty all aviation industry and pray for d land.

    April 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  26. lisaweyn

    We must feel sorry for all the business that have suffered as a result of the volcano eruption. It has affected our lives in one way or another.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  27. ladysylar

    Working the airline industry and coming from the shipping and transport industry prior to this, I was comprehending everything the writer was saying up until i read the comment of "carlos avila"...

    may ask exactly what the heck is this guy talking about??

    April 28, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  28. Rockhound

    Carlos Avila (first comment):

    You don't know geology. Get a textbook.
    You get all your information from propaganda.
    Think for yourself.

    Chris

    April 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  29. Tiago

    I agree with marion! No back-up plans and then they come complaining about money loss!
    Everything about the god damn money...when will people actually understand that the more we screw up our planet with these atitudes and acts the more they screw themselves?
    We hurt Earth and it will hurt us 100000 times worse

    April 29, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  30. goldbirdlv

    http://www.goldbird.lv
    I lived 5 days in the airport because of this volcano!

    April 30, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  31. Chiangmai,thailand

    i agree with you carlos.I like you comment a lot..

    May 5, 2010 at 9:08 am |

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