Ash threatens European airspace


By Jerry Limone

Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s main international airport, remained closed Monday morning due to the volcanic ash from the Grimsvotn volcano, which began erupting on Saturday.

The volcano is about 120 miles east of Reykjavik.

Airspace over Iceland and Greenland is closed. Swedish airport operator Swedavia on Monday said Iceland flights have been canceled but that all other airport operations were normal. Forecasts indicate that ash will enter the airspace over mainland Norway on Tuesday afternoon, said Norwegian airport operator Avinor.

The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority said Monday that ash could reach Scottish airspace on Tuesday and affect other parts of the U.K. and Ireland later in the week.

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption, also in Iceland, severely affected transatlantic and European air travel last April. The ash cloud reportedly led to the cancellation of more than 63,000 flights.

The CAA said measures have been put in place to limit disruptions. The authority said areas of high-, medium- and low-density ash will be identified based on data provided from the source of the volcano, satellite, weather balloons and radar. Information on high- and medium-density zones will be communicated to the aviation industry, said the CAA.

U.K. airlines can fly through airspace with medium- or high-density ash if they have shown that their planes can do so safely, the CAA said. Airlines have submitted such safety cases for medium-density ash, but not for high-density ash, said the CAA.

“Our number one priority is to ensure the safety of people both onboard aircraft and on the ground,” said Andrew Haines, the CAA’s CEO. “We can’t rule out disruption, but the new arrangements that have been put in place since last year’s ash cloud mean the aviation sector is better prepared and will help to reduce any disruption in the event that volcanic ash affects U.K. airspace.”

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