"We are victims". That was the message to delegates from Ralf Oelssner...

"We are victims". That was the message to delegates from Ralf Oelssner, head of risk for Deutsche Lufthansa.

Oelssner, who is also the head of the risk management panel of airline trade association IATA, complained that airline clients have faced the toughest market for 50 years in the wake of the 11 September tragedies.

"For years nothing happened, now something new crops up every three months. And there is not much the airlines can do about it," he said.

Oelssner, speaking along with Reiner Siebert, Virgin Travel's head of risk and safety, said that the airline industry had lost more in the past three years than it had in the 45 years before. He added that the insurance industry was now incredibly wary of the sector, although rates were beginning to ease.

Seibert outlined the practical difficulties of coping with the insurers' seven-day cancellations in the wake of 11 September.

"On 17 September, blanket seven-day cancellations were issued. New terms imposed surcharges massive increases in deductibles and our own security costs increased hugely without being able to claim anything back from passengers."