Air chaos to last weeks as even more volcanic ash belches out
after experts predicted the volcanic dust cloud blanketing Europe will continue
to cause chaos for the foreseeable future.
meteorologists said volcanic activity in Mount Eyjafjallajokull, in Iceland, increased
yesterday, forcing officials to extend flight restrictions yet again in an unprecedented
air lockdown over much of the Continent.
in a cloud extending up from 8,000-30,000 feet and stretching across much of northern
and central Europe, could disrupt flights for up to six months. Airlines cancelled
thousands more flights this weekend, prolonging misery for millions of people.
is Mother Nature. We’re stuck in this phase until the volcano decides to sleep.
Even if it cuts off today, which it shows no sign of doing, the ash would take
another two to three days to fall out from the skies.” Paul Knightley, of the
forecaster Meteo Group, added that the UK could be in for “quite a prolonged spell”
to grow,” Icelandic geologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said yesterday. “It’s the
magma mixing with the water that creates the explosivity. Unfortunately, there
doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.”
Airways, Qantas, Virgin, British Airways and Cathy Pacific were among airlines
to extend flight cancellations. At press time, Lufthansa grounded all flights
worldwide until lunchtime today at the earliest.
to abort plans to attend today’s state funeral of Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski
and his wife Maria in the Polish city of Krakow.
vegetables and fruit, and analysts said economic costs could spiral. Howard Archer,
chief European economist at IHS Global Insight, said “the longer that the problem
does persist, the more serious will be the economic repercussions”. British and
Irish scheduled airlines are losing up to £28m a day, with the total bill to European
carriers hitting $200m, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Anthony Pile, chairman of Blue Skies, said the company was losing £100,000 a day.
5,000 taking off or landing, the Eurocontrol air traffic agency said. This compares
with 22,000 on a typical Saturday. Among the flights that did make it were three
British Airways planes from New York, which scraped into Glasgow and Prestwick
airports in Scotland.
third of the 300 that would normally arrive. The situation deteriorated from Friday,
when 10,400 flights out made it out of the normal 28,000.
for the situation to improve. “The UK and much of Europe is under the influence
of high pressure, which means winds are relatively light and the dispersal of
cloud is slow. We don’t expect a great deal of change over the next few days,”
Mr Leith said.
crossings are booked up until Wednesday although the company is saving its remaining
foot passenger services between Dover and Calais for anyone “desperate to get
home”, a spokesman said.
and out of the UK today, said it had no firm contingency plans on how to deal
with the passenger backlog.
onshore after all three North Sea helicopter operators were grounded in Aberdeen.
in parts of Scotland, including Aberdeen, health officials continued to play down
with residents in Chiswick reporting dust on their cars. Scientists are now testing
the deposits to ascertain if they pose any health risks. Initial tests from three
samples of dust tested at Aberdeen, Lerwick and East Kilbride by the Scottish
Environment Protection Agency suggested any risks were “minimal”.
that its seismic activity became serious. Volcanologists are worried the eruptions
could set off a sister volcano, Katla, which is much bigger. Because the volcano
is situated below a glacial ice cap, the magma is being cooled quickly, causing
plumes of grit that can be catastrophic to plane engines if prevailing winds are
right, scientists said.
of Iceland, warned: “Even if this stops right now we don’t know if that’s the
end of the story. More magma pressure could build up and erupt elsewhere, possibly
under Katla, which has a much bigger glacier so would be much more explosive.”
every flight or airline is included, but most are). It is possible to see just
how few flights there are at present – and later compare on a normal day.