Newcastle Airport travellers face more ash disruption

THE volcanic ash cloud crisis could continue to cause disruption for would-be travellers in the North East for some time to come.

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THE volcanic ash cloud crisis could continue to cause disruption for would-be travellers in the North East for some time to come.

Newcastle International Airport was yesterday forced to axe Air France flights to and from Paris along with the easyJet service from Palma, Majorca.

And the fear is that the erupting volcano in Iceland could continue to affect flights all summer.

Airports in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland and Scotland were all affected by the ash cloud over the weekend, but have now reopened.

However, Newcastle Airport said information from Eurocontrol, the European air management agency, indicated further delays could be caused by a backlog of passengers and air crews being displaced.

Airlines and airports throughout the United Kingdom continued to urge passengers to check the latest information before travelling to their airport.

Scientists and weather forecasters remain confused by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano’s activity.

It continues to show no sign of ceasing and unseasonal north-westerly winds continue to blow the ash cloud towards Britain and Europe.

It could continue to do so for the foreseeable future as well, for the last time the volcano went active, in the 1820s, eruptions continued on and off for more than a year. A spokeswoman for the UK Met Office said: yesterday “We’re all at the mercy of the volcano and there is just no way of knowing how long it will continue to erupt.

“We would normally be getting south-westerly winds at this time of year and it’s pretty unusual to have northerly winds dominating the weather.

“It’s very much a day-to-day situation at the moment.”

Concerted efforts by airlines, engine manufacturers, aviation authorities and weather forecasters have led to a new understanding of how much of a threat to plane safety volcanic ash represents.

New guidelines have been drawn up that should mean that, even if the “wrong” winds blow ash plumes right over the UK, there will be no repeat of the complete shutdown of UK airspace that occurred last month.

But Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, chief executive of airline bmi, said last night: “It is becoming increasingly obvious that the current rules implemented in the EU in predicting volcanic ash concentrations are not accurate enough and lead to unnecessary closure of airspace affecting the travelling public.”

He described the current theoretical model implemented in the EU as not adequate because of its lack of testing, adding: “The airline industry urges regulators to work much more closely with the industry..”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
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