War in Europe: Alliance air exclusion zones hit holiday flights

The war in the Balkans is creating chaos for the travel and tourism industries as they prepare for the start of the summer holiday season. Flights are being delayed or re-routed, and thousands of holiday and business travellers are shunning the region because of the conflict.

Nato has imposed an air exclusion zone over Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and Bosnia, and there is restricted flying over Croatia and Hungary. Airlines have been forced to cancel or re-route flights, adding to journey times and fuel costs. It is understood 30 per cent of flights in Europe are being delayed because of the military operations.

Kieran Daly, editor of Air Transport Intelligence, an internet wire service, said this would put Europe's air traffic control system under huge pressure. "It will add to what is already very severe congestion in European airspace," he said. "We have reached the point where the airspace is full.

"When whole chunks of airspace are no-go areas, it starts to become horrific because of the knock-on effects. The whole system is hit by a ripple effect. But for obvious reasons the airlines are not making a noise about it."

The Guild of Business Travel Agents said people were putting off business trips because of the war. "The majority of business travellers are not going to that whole region," said the guild's chairman, Don Lunn. "It is even affecting southern Italy."

Southern Mediterranean holiday resorts are braced for a surge in bookings as holidaymakers scrap plans to go to central Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. Ian Epps, director for emerging markets at American Express Europe, said: "Some people will feel averse to travelling to Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and many will be looking for other destinations such as Spain, Portugal and southern Europe."

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) believes tourism would be affected if the allies launched a land campaign. "I can expect people to feel negative about going away and lying in the sun while people they know might be on active service," said a spokesman, Keith Betton.

Thomson Travel Group, which owns Thomson Holidays, said the conflict - combined with threats by Turkish Kurdish guerrillasto kill tourists - could hit profits. Paul Brett, the group's chief executive, said eastern Mediterranean destinations had been weakened by the war, although demand for holidays in the western Mediterranean remained strong.

Lufthansa said the fighting contributed to a fall in profits to DM111m (pounds 37.3m) from DM324m in its latest quarter. The chairman, Jurgen Weber, said increased military air traffic at Frankfurt, the airline's hub, had added an additional 20 to 30 minutes to flying times.

According to British Airways, however, the no-fly zones have had a "minor impact". Flights to destinations such as Istanbul, Athens, and Venice were being delayed, said a spokesman, but the increase in fuel use was minimal. "We have obviously suspended flights to Belgrade," he added, "but that was not a great money-spinner."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home