Sunday, April 18, 2010

That Infernal Volcano

So it seems the latest reports are painting a pretty desperate picture for the air travel industry caused by this infernal volcano. It also doesn't help that millions of people are now stranded away from home, and more to follow. The good news is that the peak of stranded people should be over. The trend should level out somewhat, which will take some pressure off.

Most of the airspaces in Europe will remain closed through Sunday, and I do not see the situation alleviating anytime soon. The ah clouds are hanging around Europe and is expanding its reach. Take a moment to appreciate that only three or four airspaces remain open in Europe today.

This is normally also the last weekend of the Easter holidays for most of Europe which means a lot more people should be returning home. But anticipate that next week the holiday peak would be over, hence the leveling out of travel volume.

The air industry has already lost more than $1 billion. Larger airlines like Lufthansa and British Airways are losing more than $10 million per day they are grounded. Just think, Europe's largest airline Lufthansa reported that none of their planes were in the air anywhere in the world on Saturday.

KLM and Lufthansa have been doing test flights at maximum cruising altitudes. The preliminary report seems positive, with the planes not suffering from any damage caused by the ash. This may seem like the light at the end of the tunnel for some, but I think Eurocontrol (European Air Traffic Control body) will not let up so easily.

Here's the current airspace situation (update 11:30 CET):
  • Austria - closed
  • Belarus - closed
  • Belgium - closed (until at least 14:00 CET Sunday)
  • Bulgaria - closed
  • Czech Republic - closed
  • Denmark - closed
  • Estonia - closed
  • Finland - closed
  • Germany - closed
  • Hungary - closed
  • Ireland - closed
  • Latvia - closed
  • Luxembourg - closed
  • Montenegro - closed
  • Netherlands - closed
  • Poland - closed
  • Serbia - closed
  • Slovakia - closed
  • Sweden - closed
  • Switzerland - closed
  • UK - closed (until at least 02:00 CET Monday)
  • Ukraine - closed
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina - partial closure
  • Bulgaria - partial closure northern airspace
  • Croatia - partial closure
  • France - partial closure northern airspace (until at least Monday)
  • Italy - partial closure northern airspace (until at least Monday)
  • Lithuania - partial closure
  • Norway - partially opened northern airspace
  • Spain - partial closure northern airspace
The following airspaces remain open:
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Turkey
Source: BBC News, VRT Nieuws,

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