Hundreds of staff from facilities and technology firms were among the estimated 150,000 Brits still stranded abroad earlier this week because of the Icelandic volcanic ash flight restrictions.

People who had attended NAB in Las Vegas were hardest hit, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that ‘several hundred’ were still in the US at the start of the week, at least five days after the show ended.

Those affected included management and senior technology staff from many of the major Soho facilities, including Evolutions, which had three staff in the US.

Managing director Simon Kanjee said: “It’s going to be a while before all are back home. It’s not looking good.”

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, the cost of covering absences with supply staff - or freelancers - will quickly have a big impact on small firms.

Design company SquareZero is one of those affected. The company’s 3D expert is stranded abroad so two freelancers have been brought in to replace him, a move that will see the company pay twice for a single job.

At the same time, hire firm Shoot Blue’s production arm, Blue Tuna, has cancelled a voiceover session because the artist concerned is in the US.

Mike Smith, managing director of rental company Alias Smith and Singh, told Broadcast that clients being stranded abroad might affect enquiries, but that it would not stop electronic business. “It’s delaying the signing of paperwork, but that’s all really,” he said.

Generally, spirits were high, with many people making use of remote working and US offices.

Wendy Mattock of PR company Bubble and Squeak, which had several clients at NAB, summed up the mood among remaining Brits.

“Everyone is pretty resigned to being stranded, though enthusiasm levels differ depending on the layover destination,” she said.

There were also countless stories of long, arduous journeys home in order to be in situ for urgent work this week.
Jim Allison, managing director of Glasgow’s M8 Media, managed to leave on one of the last transatlantic flights out of the US.

His journey included stops in Los Angeles and Paris, a ride on the back of a motorcycle to Calais, a ferry and finally a train to Scotland.