News / Europe

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

William Ide

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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid