News / Europe

Some Flights Resume Across Europe

A few airliners in Europe have taken to the skies after five days of being grounded by a huge plume of ash from a volcano in Iceland.

European air traffic control agency (Eurocontrol) says at least 50 percent of scheduled flights from Europe are expected take off Tuesday.  Planes are now departing from Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.  

But flights in Britain are still grounded because of a new ash cloud heading toward the country.

In a video teleconference meeting on Monday, EU transportation ministers agreed to lift the ban on flights beginning early Tuesday morning in Scotland and reopen other airports to the south and east as conditions improve.

European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said that progressively, more planes should begin flying.

"This is good news for Europe's stranded passengers, good news for airline industry and other sectors of the economy hard hit by this crisis," said Siim Kallas.

Britain's National Air Traffic service says that after Scotland's airports and airspace reopen, London's airports - including Heathrow - might be able to open later in the day.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Volcanic Ash Stops Europe Flights—Why Ash Is Dangerous (National Geographic)
An eruption in South Iceland (Icelandic meteorological institute)
Volcanic Gases and Their Effects (U.S. Geological Survey)

Millions of travelers have been affected since the Icelandic volcano began erupting last week.  It is the second time that the volcano has erupted in a month after lying dormant for about 200 years.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the U.S. government is trying to help some 40,000 Americans who are stranded in Britain and trying to get home.

"We are working closely with the State Department to examine all the opportunities that we have to speed this process along," said Robert Gibbs. "And the understanding that some people may have gone on vacation, they are running out of medicine, they don't have a place to stay."

The announcement of the plans to progressively resume flights comes as the aviation industry is criticizing government officials for their handling of the situation.  It is estimated that the airline groundings have cost the industry more than $1 billion in lost revenues.

Michael O' Leary, the head of Ryanair, Europe's major low-cost carrier, cautiously welcomed the decision to resume flights.

"We welcome the opening of U.K. airspace on a graduated basis," said Michael O' Leary. "But frankly, this thing could change on an hour-by-hour basis, depending on what happens with the volcano in Iceland."

A statement late Monday from the the British National Air Traffic Service highlighted that uncertainty.  It said the eruptions have strengthened and a new ash cloud was heading toward Britain.

Klaus Walther, spokesman for Lufthansa, cautions that it will take some time for air traffic to return to normal.

Walther says it will take some time because Lufthansa has not yet returned to normal flight conditions, which would enable it to arrange 1,800 flights per day.  He adds that for the next few weeks, the airline will be following special rules and permissions agreed upon between the Federal Office of Civil Aviation and German airlines, and that safety will be the highest priority.

The agreement reached by EU transportation ministers creates three zones - a no fly zone immediately over the ash could, a caution zone where there is some contamination and an open skies zone.

Planes flying in the caution zone will be subject to engine inspections for damage upon landing.

Experts say that although ash and gases from volcanic eruptions can damage the exterior of a plane as well as its air filtration system, the most serious threat is to its engines, which could fail during flight.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid