Saturday, April 17, 2010

Volcanic Disruptions

Most of Europe is facing heavy travel disruptions this week caused by the volcanic eruptions in Iceland this week more than 2000 km away. European airspace is facing unprecedented closures and flight bans under safety concerns.

Current airspace conditions (17/4/10 @ 02:47 CET):

  • Belgium - closed (until at least 10:00 CET Saturday)
  • Czech Republic - closed
  • Denmark - closed
  • Estonia - closed (until at least 02:00 CET Saturday)
  • Finland - closed (until at least Sunday)
  • Hungary - closed (until at least Saturday afternoon)
  • Latvia - closed
  • Netherlands - closed (until at least Saturday)
  • Slovakia - closed
  • Slovenia - closed
  • Switzerland - closed
  • Austria - partial closure
  • France - partial closure northern airspace (Paris closed until at least 14:00 CET Saturday)
  • Germany - mostly closed
  • Italy - partial closure northern airspace (until at least 14:00 CET Saturday)
  • Lithuania - air operators' decision
  • Norway - partially opened northern airspace
  • Poland - partial closure (Rzeszow open)
  • Republic of Ireland - mostly opened
  • Romania - partial closure western airspace (from Saturday)
  • Sweden - partially opened northern airspace
  • UK - partially opened
The extent of the current travel disruptions are unclear, however the air industry is reported to be losing €150m per day they are forced to ground planes. This figure is likely to increase throughout the weekend as the airspace closures extend towards the south-eastern parts of Europe. Large European airlines like BA and Lufthansa are losing more than €10m per day.

We are currently seeing far reaching implications into other travel industries. Most stranded passengers are looking at alternate ways to get back home. The Eurostar is fully booked until Monday, even after the rail operator added three extra trains to cope with the demand. Thalys is experiencing similar problems. There are people going on ferries and cargo ships to travel between UK and mainland Europe.

Even if the restrictions are lifted by Monday next week, there will be a long and rather difficult road ahead to return air travel to normal. Apart from passengers and crew, hundreds of aircrafts are also stranded all over the world. The carefully planned schedules by airlines are no longer functioning. Airlines will not be able to recover for weeks, or months to come.

Source: BBC News, VRT News
Image: NEODAAS/University of Dundee/AP

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