IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Natural Disasters and Business: The Impact of the Icelandic Volcano of April 2010 on European Logistics and Distribution – A case study of Malta


  • Stephanie Jones

    (Associate Professor, Organizational Behaviour, Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands and Tilburg University, the Netherlands)

  • Edwin Mendoza Bolivar

    (MBA, Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands)


During one week in April 2010, distribution of packages and cargoes by air were grounded throughout Europe, as the eruption of a major series of volcanoes sent toxic and metallic particles into the air in the form of gas clouds. Most airlines operating in the affected area, anxious to comply with safety rulings, suspended all flights during this time. The major ‘express’ logistics and distribution companies – such as TNT, FedEx and DHL – were profoundly affected. Most packages for TNT, for example, are sent to a distribution hub in Leige, in Belgium. This hub became log-jammed and undelivered packages accumulated. In a study of the impact on the island of Malta (conducted by an MSM MBA student from intake 26 as research for an MBA thesis), it was discovered that an entrepreneurial approach – by using sea-based deliveries also incorporating landbased trucking services – enabled TNT to steal a march on its competitors. Although taking two or three days to make deliveries that might normally take one day, TNT were able to keep their packages moving, when their competitors’ packages were holed-up in Leige. Otherwise packages were hand-carried on commercial airlines – anything to solve customer problems. Customers won from the competition were so impressed by the responsiveness and flexibility of TNT in Malta that they were subsequently retained. The lessons here for global logistics in handling natural disasters are many. Crisis management planning needs to be firmly in place, especially as volcanoes can erupt at any time – and many other natural disasters can negatively impact logistics and distribution effectiveness. Alternative methods and approaches to ensure deliveries need to be explored. Otherwise the loyalty of customers can be compromised, as even though they may appreciate a positive customer service attitude and low prices, results are everything in this business.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephanie Jones & Edwin Mendoza Bolivar, 2011. "Natural Disasters and Business: The Impact of the Icelandic Volcano of April 2010 on European Logistics and Distribution – A case study of Malta," Working Papers 2011/20, Maastricht School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:msm:wpaper:2011/20

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2011
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:msm:wpaper:2011/20. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Maud de By). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.