News / Europe

Volcanic Ash Disrupts European Air Traffic

Grounded aircraft at Belfast City Airport, Northern Ireland, 17 May 2010
Grounded aircraft at Belfast City Airport, Northern Ireland, 17 May 2010

Air travel through British airspace, and a few points beyond, is once again being affected by a volcanic ash cloud making its way south from Iceland.

In Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, some airports were completely shutdown.  Ireland saw some closures, as did airports in the Netherlands.

Having experienced a six-day shutdown last month, airline regulators and the aviation industry are now working more closely in refining the scope and impact of this cloud.

British Transportation Secretary Philip Hammond says all parties are learning more about how best to deal with this potential threat that could reappear in the coming months.

"My officials have been working into the night, last night, with the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] and with the aircraft engine manufacturers, trying to reach a consensus on a higher threshold operating level with an enhanced inspection regime that would allow aircraft to fly for short periods through densities of volcanic ash higher than the current threshold and to do so safely by having a proper enhanced inspection regime in place," saidHammond.

At Britain's National Air Traffic Service, they have been keeping close tabs on the size and density of the ash formation.  Operations Director Ian Hall says the shape and location of the cloud changes by the hour.

"The ash, which has been sweeping down from Iceland over the British Isles has effectively split into two areas: one affecting some of the Scottish airports, and the other one then sweeping down and around to the south of London, perilously close to Heathrow, which is landing 30 aircraft an hour instead of the normal 42 aircraft an hour, and so close to Gatwick that the aircraft are able to depart but not to land," said Hall.

About 1,000 flights have been canceled in Europe, but that is substantially less that the daily average affected last month by the ash cloud.

Throughout Monday, more airports re-opened, allowing at least some restricted flights.  But, on an individual basis, stories of frustration abound. These passengers stranded in Edinburgh say airline information has not been good.

"They do not know anything, nothing at all.  We will just come back, and, when they get their update, they might know a little bit more," said one passenger.  "We checked at 4 o'clock this morning, Edinburgh airport was still open and the flight was still scheduled, but you get here at half past six and they told us it was canceled," the passenger added.

Forecasters predict flight delays and cancelations could remain for another day, but winds are expected to move the volcanic air mass into northern Europe on Wednesday.

When it is gone, some travelers here will still face problems as the airlines cope with a backlog of passengers.

To compound matters, cabin crews at British Airways planned  to go back on strike Tuesday as part of their lengthy dispute with management, but a last-minute court ruling has stopped the strike and more conciliation talks are scheduled.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs