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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid