Europe Travel

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

News: European skies open but airline schedules scrambled

Europe's skies were open for business on Wednesday but, with so many planes having been grounded by the volcanic ash from Iceland, it could take days or even weeks to clear the backlog...

About 75 percent of flights in Europe will operate on Wednesday, some 21,000 of the 28,000 flights normally scheduled each day, European air traffic agency Eurocontrol said.

Flights resumed after scientists and manufacturers downgraded the risk of flying in areas of relatively low ash concentrations, Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said.

"The major barrier to resuming flight has been understanding tolerance levels of aircraft to ash. Manufacturers have now agreed increased tolerance levels in low ash density areas," CAA head Deidre Hutton said.

"A return to normal will take another 48 hours," French junior Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau predicted. "I think the situation will be normal before the weekend."

Britain had lagged behind its European neighbors in downgrading the threat to airplanes from the ash, which can potentially scour and even paralyze jet engines.


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