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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid