Hundreds of flights were grounded again today as the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland became concentrated enough to close airspace in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland. As of Tuesday afternoon, only a small area over northwestern Scotland remains closed, with most airspace being closed for a total of six hours. Six hours is certainly an improvement over six days, as the ash is from the same volcano that a few weeks ago closed much of Europe’s airspace for six days and cost European airlines an estimated $1.7 billion.
Transatlantic flights with paths over Ireland were not affected because most commercial flights stay in the 35,000-40,000 feet range, while the cloud rose no higher than 20,000 feet. However, these may not be Europe’s last ash cancellations. The Irish aviation authority warned today that “Winds are forecast to continue coming from a northerly direction for the next few days and this could lead to further problems.”
Experts in Iceland say the Eyjafjallajokull volcano began spouting larger amounts of ash four days ago, but still far less than the amounts that earlier caused six days of travel chaos. The new rash of ash closures comes on the same day the European Union’s 27 transportation ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels to review and vote on a package of emergency measures meant to address last month’s ash crisis.
[Image: World News]