Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New volcanic ash cloud threatens flight hopes.

I went to bed last night with the radio telling me that Britain is reopening her air space, but I awoke this morning to the same silence that has gripped Osterley for the last five days.

There are simply no planes up there.

Then, I go online and read this:

Hopes that Heathrow airport would open from 7pm were thrown into doubt as a fresh plume of volcanic dust drifted towards Britain. Nats, the national air traffic controller, said Scottish airports should be open by 7am today, with airspace over England becoming available by midday but not as far south as London's airports.

"The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK," said Nats. The situation for airports in Northern Ireland is "uncertain", it added.

Earlier Nats forecasts had given rise to hopes that UK airspace might be fully open after 6pm. However, aviation industry sources said the new ash cloud appeared to have dashed those expectations.

A meeting of European Union transport ministers produced plans for a reduction in the no-fly restrictions over the continent last night, with airspace divided into three categories comprised of: a no-go area; air corridors "with some contamination" where flying can take place under strict conditions; and open zones with no safety concerns.

"From tomorrow morning on we should see progressively more planes start to fly," said EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas last night.

A guy in my local newsagents, who works at Heathrow, told me yesterday that he didn't expect any flights for the next two months. I find that hard to believe, as the financial implications for the airlines would be too horrific to contemplate.

Already we are becoming aware of businesses facing hardship because of this.
The knock-on effects abroad included Kenyan farmers having to dump huge quantities of roses and other flowers that they have been unable to export.
I have neighbours who run a chauffeuring business and they are losing one third of their business with the airports closed.

Soon, the government are going to have to make a call. My worry is that they will be swayed by the financial implications more than the safety issues. This is causing chaos, but that volcano shows no sings of settling.

Click here for full article.


Steel Phoenix said...

What does it look like outside there? Do you see a big change in the sky, or have ash falling?

All I hear about in the news is airplanes. but surely if it is bad enough to ground them it must have other impacts.

Kel said...

Relatives further north tell me that their cars are covered in volcanic ash.

Here in London we only know that that there are no aircraft in the sky.

It's a noise that you don't even notice until it isn't there.

But the silence, at the moment, is deafening.