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

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha 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