Ash cloud grounds 500 flights

Up to 500 services in and out of Britain were grounded yesterday as ash from Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano threatens flight safety.

Norway and Denmark are also said to have witnessed disruptions in their operations, while German officials are preparing to shut down its airspace over northern Germany today as the cloud moves east over Scandinavia, Netherlands and northern Germany, Voice of American News reported.

Despite mass flight cancellations and airspace closure, International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general Giovanni Bisignani said last year’s volcanic eruption which resulted in up to $2 billion loss for the industry has taught the sector a lesson in disaster management.

“Work over the last year has put in place a European crisis coordination structure that is facilitating a much more effective management of this ash crisis at a working level,” Mr Bisignani said.

“But Grimsvotn is also a dramatic reminder of the disappointing lack of progress at the political level on the Single European Sky.

“The potential for a patchwork of inconsistent state decisions on airspace management still exists because there is a major disconnect between the improved process and state decisions on airspace availability.”

Mr Bisignani added that the industry should not turn to airspace closures but rather “accept the capability” or airlines to make decisions that will reduce risk to their employees and passangers.

“The process is working much more effectively and we have avoided the blanket airspace closures that brought much of the world to a standstill last year,” he added.

“But there is still no formal obligation for a unified and coordinated response.

“European Transport Ministers should formally agree their determination to avoid a repeat of the 2010 chaos by embracing a common process based on airline safety risk assessments for determining whether and when it is safe to fly.”

Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
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