Update: flight ban extended till 7am Sunday
17.04.10 | Philip Jones
Flights into London ahead of the London Book Fair continue to be banned, with the UK's National Air Traffic Services again extending the suspension now in place until at least 7am tomorrow (Sunday 18th). The turmoil is now a serious threat to the London Book Fair's international activities with the South African Market Focus looking particularly vulnerable.
Nevertheless today's pre-fair activity has begun in earnest, with the LBF reporting that all weekend events are taking place as planned -- Masterclasses, The Rights Workshop, the Digital Conference -- those that can’t attend can nominate someone to replace them. The South African Market Focus programme will go ahead as planned, including the Chairman’s Breakfast, and Market Focus reception, but LBF said there could be some changes to those billed to attend.
Late yesterday, the London Book Fair’s international key accounts manager, Amy Webster sent out an appeal for £150,000 to charter a flight from South Africa. South African books website, Book SA, described the move as "long shot", but added that it was "a time for courage and the redoubling of efforts, keeping in mind the importance of the SA Market Focus to the cause of southern African writing and publishing". The efficacy of the move would of course depend on airspace over the UK reopening.
The move suggests that even if flights are allowed in the UK before the fair closes on Wednesday, those with cancelled flights could face huge problems rebooking. It also suggests the efforts being made by the organisers to make sure the fair continues as best it can, despite the disruption.
Other international trade websites are reporting on cancelled trips, with Publishers Weekly noting that its editorial and sales staff will not now be at LBF. Canadian trade paper Quill & Quire reported that many of the Canadians planning to attend the London Book Fair are now facing the distinct possibility they’ll be sitting out the event entirely.
Further updates will be posted over the weekend. If you are unable to attend and would like to convey a message to colleagues then feel free to leave a comment below, or email email@example.com. Key messages will be published online and also in The Bookseller Dailies, published throughout the fair.