Volcanic Ash Clouds Close European Airports, Again

4556967643_1653075c2e_oJust over a month after the first ash clouds from Iceland’s erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano are once again playing havoc with air travel in parts of Europe:

Thousands of passengers were facing further travel chaos today as a new ash cloud covered large parts of the UK and forced the closure of a number of airports in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.

Northwesterly winds have pushed a high-density ash cloud over the UK, making it unsafe to fly and forcing the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to close large parts of UK airspace.

Airports in Northern Ireland have been affected since early this morning. By 11am the CAA had extended its no-fly zone to a number of airports on the west coast of the UK.

Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford, East Midlands and Glasgow Prestwick airports have all been forced to close

As with the last round of closings, which many experts later said were entirely unnecessary, the airline industry is protesting what seems to many to be an overly cautious stance by authorities:

Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, said today that the Manchester closure was “beyond a joke” and that there was no evidence that aircraft could not continue to fly safely.

“All the test flights by airlines, aircraft and engine manufacturers have shown no evidence that airlines could not continue to fly completely safely,” he said. “Over a thousand flights took off from France last week in similar conditions to that which exist in Manchester today without encountering any problems or showing any levels of ash concentration.

“We need strong leadership to intervene to avoid doing further unnecessary damage to the UK economy and lives of travellers

Given the fact that scientists are saying that these eruptions, and the resulting ash clouds, could continue for decades, it would seem that would we really need is a definitive answer to the question of what risk they pose to international air travel. When you’re dealing with an unknown, temporary phenomenon, it makes sense to play it safe, but if these ash clouds are going to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future, Europe is going to need a better solution than just closing the airports at the first sign of an ash cloud.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Pete says:

    Maybe Al Gore and the AGW bedwetters have some ideas.

  2. Triumph says:

    When you’re dealing with an unknown, temporary phenomenon, it makes sense to play it safe, but if these ash clouds are going to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future, Europe is going to need a better solution than just closing the airports at the first sign of an ash cloud.

    Give me a break. Planes are tough. This is just typical Old European political correctness. These guys strike and stop work at the drop of the hat and this is part of that laziness. They will do anything to avoid solving problems. Their de-facto response is to wait it out.

    This approach doesn’t work with evildoers like AL Quaeda and Saadam and it doesn’t work with a stupid volcano.

    If there is REALLY a problem with the volcano, the Euro-weenies should bomb the crap out of Iceland to get them to comply. But, of course, this is never going to happen since we are talking about such cowardly countries like France, UK, etc…

    Imagine the French military trying to deal with Iceland! They would be defeated by a bunch of sheep-herders for sure.

    Europeans just don’t want to confront their problems, so they suffer and stagnate.

    If Iceland is a problem, they should be bombed.