News / Europe

EU: Half of Europe's Flights Could Take Off Monday

The European Union presidency says that air traffic over Europe could return to about 50 percent of its normal level on Monday, if weather forecasts confirm that skies over the continent are clearing of volcanic ash.  

European transportation ministers from countries affected by the ash a volcano in Iceland began spewing into the sky last week will meet on Monday by video conference in an effort to reopen closed airspace.

The volcanic ash has brought chaos to the region - canceling most trans-Atlantic and European flights and leaving thousands of airline passengers stranded for days, as well as disrupting commerce.

European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas says Europe has never experienced a transportation disruption like this and that officials need to take action to get things moving again. "This is clear also, that this is not sustainable.  So we cannot go ahead and just wait until the ash cloud will disappear," he said.

Kallas says Monday's meeting will try to find a technological solution to the flight disruption, but he stressed that safety considerations will come first. "It is clear that safety is our first and utmost priority, so we cannot compromise with safety.  But we are working based on new evidence about test flights, how to assess the situation and how to find solutions to increase air space without compromising safety," he said.

Spanish Secretary of State for E.U. Affairs Diego Lopez Garrido says the ash cloud over Europe is moving to the northeast, which could clear half of the air space over the continent. "Probably there will be half of the European Union territory influenced by this ash cloud.  And from this perspective, the forecast is that there will be half of the flights possibly operating in Europe," he said.

But Britain, Germany and the Netherlands say their airspace will remain closed for much of Monday.

Meteorologists say conditions over Europe were unstable on Sunday and that shifting winds made air travel dangerous.  They also note that the irregular eruptions from the Icelandic volcano, which continues to spew ash into the sky, is adding to the unpredictability of the situation.

Volcanic ash consists of rock, glass and other particles that can stall aircraft engines.  

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said it flew four planes in a normal pattern above 3,000 meters from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf on Sunday.  The airline's pilots said they did not encounter residue from the ash cloud and that jetliners were not damaged.

Lufthansa flew 10 empty planes from Frankfurt to Munich on Saturday without incident, and Air France flew several successful test flights.

Some aviation officials have criticized the airline shutdowns, arguing that they were based solely on computer models.  Air Berlin chief Joachim Hunold was quoted on Sunday by German media as saying that no one has yet sent weather balloons into the atmosphere to collect data on the volcanic ash.

Analysts say airlines are losing about $200 million a day because of the European and trans-Atlantic shutdowns.

Air travel in Southern Europe - including Spain, southern Italy, Greece and Turkey - remains open.

The last major disruption to European aviation followed the September 11 attacks on the United States almost a decade ago.  U.S. airspace was closed for three days and European airlines canceled all trans-Atlantic flights.

The volcano in southeastern Iceland began erupting on Wednesday, for the second time in a month, after being dormant for nearly 200 years.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines 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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs