Posted by: Rehan Today | April 17, 2010

Flight Chaos – European air travel paralyzed as volcano keeps spewing Ash

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 A huge ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano turned the skies of northern Europe into a no-fly zone on Thursday, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers. The european air safety organisation said the disruption, the biggest seen in the region, could last another two days and a leading volcano expert said the ash could present intermittent problems to air traffic for six months if the eruption continued.

London, England – A cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano stymied European air traffic and choked international travel on Saturday as airlines cut flights, left stranded passengers, and watched their daily revenue nosedive.

Thousands of flights have been canceled. European air traffic officials said 5,000 flights took place instead of the customary number of 22,000 on Saturday. About 10,400 flights took place in Europe on Friday, compared with the normal 28,000.

President Obama canceled his trip to Poland to attend the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski because of the snarled air traffic, the White House said Saturday.

There were restrictions on civil flights in 23 countries across most of northern and central Europe. This swath comprises Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, most of France, most of Germany, Hungary, Ireland, northern Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The eruption began March 20 beneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland, blowing a hole in the ice. It worsened this week, forcing local evacuations and eventually affecting European airspace. Although barely visible in the air, the ash — made up of tiny particles of rock, glass and sand — poses a serious threat to aircraft.

The situation has upended lives for millions of travelers but for now, many are adjusting to the inconvenience.

Kara Helwig of Neenah, Wisconsin, told CNN her 15-year-old daughter, Megan Emenecker, was stuck in Paris, France, after her flight home from her French club’s trip was canceled.

“She didn’t sound worried. They’re just definitely ready to get home. They probably don’t even have any clean clothes and are low on money. But they’re all in pretty good spirits,” Helwig said.

She said the group hopes to leave on Tuesday.

On Saturday, airlines such as American and Continental drastically reduced intercontinental flights. About 600 transatlantic flights normally take place each day, 300 in each direction. Instead of the 300 flights that would usually arrive in Europe, just 73 flights arrived on Saturday morning.

British Airways says it has canceled its flights to and from London airports on Saturday and Sunday. Restrictions in place around United Kingdom-controlled air space will remain in place until at least 7 a.m. Sunday (2 a.m. ET), the UK air traffic agency said. Some air space could be available within Scotland, Northern Ireland and England north of Leeds up until 7 p.m.

Other airlines such as Air France, Lufthansa, Ryanair and Qantas announced restrictions to their schedules in Europe because of the ash, which experts have said can stall engines and cause electrical failures on board aircraft. There were delays and cancellations Saturday at all 10 of Russia’s international airports, including those in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Russian Transport Ministry said.

Upper air space has been made available in some of these restricted areas, depending on the observed and forecasted area of ash contamination, air traffic officials said. Parts of southern Europe, including Spain, the southern Balkan area, southern Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey remained open and flights were taking place in these areas, the officials said.

The Icelandic volcano continued to erupt on Saturday, according to an official with Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. He said it’s not clear when the eruption will end.

The United Kingdom’s National Air Traffic Services said the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland is moving around and changing shape. Weather forecasts show the ash cloud progressively covering the whole of the United Kingdom after 7 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) Saturday, the agency said.

Airlines were rebooking passengers, and people were turning to other travel options, such as cars, trains and ferries.

Alexey Bekin, a 40-year-old Muscovite who runs a construction company, has been stuck in Geneva, Switzerland. After his flight home to Russia was canceled Saturday, he said Aeroflot offered people hotel rooms that would have to be shared with strangers. Bekin opted to pay for his own hotel room.

He considered taking a train to Milan, Italy, to catch a flight, but all the trains were sold out. He has been rebooked for a flight on Wednesday.

Lets see how ash effects the engine of aircrafts, (just, please click the following link)

The Effect of Volcanic Ash on Airplane.

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