Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 16:11 UK

Iceland volcano: Small business impact

The cloud of volcanic ash drifting across Europe means much of Northern Europe is now a no-fly zone.

This is already expected to cost the airline industry tens of millions of pounds in lost revenues, with much of the UK.

But its not just the big airlines that have been affected. Here is a selection of the small business owners who have been in touch with the BBC to tell how the disruption has affected them.


Yvonne Yang owns a flower shop in Toronto, Canada.

The disruption to flights means that she will not receive her regular shipment of flowers from Holland this week, and is being forced to seek alternative sources in South America.

"We pre-order flowers from Holland every week," she said.

Roses in Ecuador

"This weekend is particularly busy because next week is Administrative Professional's Day [when bosses buy flowers to show their appreciation for their secretaries], but we've been told that our delivery of Dutch flowers won't be arriving this week.

"During the summer we use local producers but in winter months we source flowers from across the world.

"We're having to look at other sources, including Ecuador. It's also going to be more expensive because if you pre-order you're not paying a premium.

"We now have to look around and see what prices are being offered."


Simon Westmore, who teaches motorised paragliding - known as paramotor - the empty skies above the UK have been a blessing.

Even if his engine became affected by the ash, Simon says he would be able to glide down easily.

"As a paramotor pilot [and] instructor it's had a positive effect," he said.

"The UK air traffic is closed to all and most others are staying on the ground.

"That gives us a much nicer sky to fly in and since we fly at around 1,000ft we are not affected by the ash cloud.

"I do of course feel for people who need to travel by air."


Neville, from Nairobi in Kenya, is feeling the effects of the ash cloud as it is stopping flights into his main export markets.

I live many miles away from Europe but my business of supplying fresh produce to the retailers in the UK and continental Europe is virtually at a halt," he said.

"No flights northbound and I can't send cargo out, so everything is going into the bin.

"I have also stopped the pack house shifts because of this mess."


Richard Hunt runs an executive limousine company in Salisbury, which primary transfers customers between the airports and their homes or businesses.

He says that small businesses like his are being hit hard.

"We usually do around 10 trips to the airport every day and for the last couple of days we've had nothing," he said.

"I dread to think how much it's cost us - probably around £1,000 a day.

"It takes something like this to make you realise how dependent we are on air traffic.

"But there's not a lot we can do about it. I'm now making the most of having time to do general housekeeping within the business, like cleaning the cars."


Louise Guinda was due to fly to China on Thursday to sign off some new product samples for her baby accessories company, Safe Dreams.

The delay means she has to keep her retail customers waiting which is bad for business.

Louise Guinda

"I was supposed to fly to China from Aberdeen. I am the owner of a small business called Safe Dreams and I was heading there to visit the factory manufacturing our product," she said.

"I spent the whole morning on hold with Air France trying to change the ticket, when I was eventually able to change it, all the flights were full until next Wednesday!

"I had hotels and internal flights booked in China and childcare arranged for my son so the volcanic ash has turned into quite a financial disaster for my business.

"Still, after reading about the British Airways 1982 flight I'm quite glad not to fly!"

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