Icelandic Volcano a Blow to Trans-Atlantic Business Travel

Business travelers and vacationers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean recently were stranded by the spectacular eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull Volcano that created an ash cloud so large it covered significant portions of Europe and disrupted air travel.  Although the flight delays were the result of an act of God, employees concerned about retaining their jobs in a tough economy resorted to transcontinental technology to try and keep up with their work loads.

The use of the internet, remote e-mail access, Twitter and Skype are reported to have risen since the volcano blew.  One Londoner reported a rash of “volcano-ash-out-of-office messages”.  Regus, which rents office space and meeting rooms, has reported stranded travelers booking space to work remotely or teleconference.  Although the travel crisis has cost airlines more than $1 billion, IHS Global Insights notes that the “impact on business should be limited by the fact that many affected companies can hold international meetings via teleconferencing; and of course, many meetings can be rearranged.”

In a bizarre leap of illogic, conservative talking head Rush Limbaugh linked the volcanic activity to Congress’ recent passage of healthcare reform legislation.  According to Limbaugh, “You know, a couple of days after the healthcare bill had been signed into law, (President Barack) Obama ran around all over the country saying, ‘Hey, you know, I’m looking around.  The earth hadn’t opened up. No Armageddon out there.  The birds are still chirping.’  I think the earth has opened up.  God may have replied.  This volcano in Iceland has grounded more airplanes — airspace has been more affected — than even after 9/11 because of this plume, because of this ash cloud over Northern and Western Europe.  It’s got everybody just in a shutdown.  Earth has opened up.  I don’t know whether it’s a rebirth or Armageddon.”