Air Transport World

Euro's smooth takeoff.

Cathy Buyck is a Brussels-based journalist.

While airlines prepared themselves for the introduction of the euro, most customers have yet to discover the new currency

On January 1st we had three requests for price quotations for tickets in euro, January 2nd we had two persons with the same demand, January 3rd one person asked if he could pay in euro. And that's it," says Patrick Jeandrain, press manager of Sabena.

Ironically, the attractive headquarters of Belgium's national airline are located a mere 10 miles from the luxurious downtown Brussels offices of the European Commission, the driving force behind the common European currency. "The general public has shown no interest at all in the conversion into the euro," adds Jeandrain. "All the requests came from journalists who wanted to check if Sabena was ready for payment in euro. And we were ready."

According to the EU timetable (see box, page 33), the euro became legal tender on Jan. 1, 1999, in the 11 states participating in the European Economic and Monetary Union: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. The other four member states of the EU do not participate in this initial conversion. Greece hopes to qualify early in the next decade; Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden will decide later whether to join in.

This complicates matters. Take low-cost, no-frills Ryanair, based in Ireland, an EMU member state, but with a growing number of flights connecting London, in a non-EMU state, to destinations in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, all EMU states. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.