Ash to cause further airlines chaos

Aviation experts are warning that air traffic across western Europe may continue to be affected by an Icelandic volcano, which has been billowing clouds of ash and spreading it throughout the region.

Estimated ash cloud

Experts say that the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, located in Iceland, continues to have “sporadic eruptions”; dark ash clouds have been moving south and east of the area, causing mass flight cancellations from the UK to Russia over fears that the soot may be catastrophic to planes – such as causing engines to fail in-flight or severely reducing the pilot’s visibility.

The ash clouds are drifting between six to nine thousand meters above the ground, and are moving eastwards, over northern France and Austria and towards Russia at about 40 kilometers per hour.

Already, thousands of passengers have been left stranded around the world, unable to travel to and from various points in Europe. The continent’s air-traffic control center forecast 17,000 flights to be canceled on Friday alone, and indicated there could be further disruption on Saturday. The cancellations are costing airlines about US$200 million daily, the International Air Transport Association reports.

A global association of air traffic control companies commented that ash clouds would probably continue to affect flights for some time. “The knock-on effect of the volcanic ash plume over northern Europe is likely to disrupt European airspace for several days,” the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization said in a statement. “Traffic will have to be reorganized and rerouted and flights preplanned, all on a dynamic and quite unpredictable basis.”

“The skies are totally empty over northern Europe,” said Eurocontrol’s deputy head, Bryan Flynn. The agency added that about 16,000 of Europe’s average 28,000 daily flights were canceled yesterday, twice as many as were called off on Thursday.

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