News / Europe

    EU Officials OK Some Air Traffic in the Region

    European Transport Commissioner says air service, crippled for days, to begin picking up Tuesday

    Lisa Bryant

    European Union officials have given the green light for limited air traffic to resume in the region, bringing hopes that the airline crisis is nearing its end.

    Following a video conference among European transportation ministers, European officials have agreed to slot air traffic into three zones: open to all flights, limited flights and entirely closed to flights.

    The basic message, European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told reporters, is that airline service, crippled for days by a volcanic ash cloud, will begin picking as of Tuesday.

    "From tomorrow morning on, we should progressively [see] more planes start to fly and this is good news for Europe's stranded passengers, good news for the airline industry and other sectors of the economy hard hit by the crisis," Kallas said.

    The International Air Transport Association estimates airline losses from the ash cloud at about $270 million a day. Experts say a number of other industries and countries as far off as Kenya have also been hard hit by the fallout. The European Commission says it will conduct a thorough study of  the economic impact of the ash cloud spewed from a volcano in Iceland last week.

    But Kallas said all decisions to resume air traffic will be made carefully and with passenger safety a priority.

    "There can be no compromise on safety. All decisions must be made based on scientific evidence and expert analysis and we need more European cooperation to find solutions to the crisis," Kallas said.

    In France, some shuttered airports will be resuming service as of Monday night. Britain also announced it would lift flight restrictions over Scottish airspace as of Tuesday. Other British airports could also reopen.

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