Ash cloud briefly halts European flights, may return later

Iceland volcano erupting

Image from FotoCommunity

The ash cloud from an Iceland volcano became an air travel issue again on Monday. A change in wind direction caused an ash cloud over Ireland from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The  Irish Aviation Authority briefly shut down seven airports. The airports opened again Tuesday morning, but winds could cause the ash cloud over Ireland to return later this week. Meanwhile, European Union transportation ministers met in Brussels in an effort to avoid repeating the indecision that contributed to last month’s air travel crisis caused by the ash cloud over Europe.

The ash cloud over Ireland

The volcano eruption in Iceland started spewing larger amounts of ash four days ago and a changing wind blew it south, Icelandic experts told the BBC. But the plume was a small cash loan compared to the ash cloud over Europe  in April. The return of volcanic ash from Iceland raised fears of another devastating shutdown of air travel. Last month’s massive ash cloud over Europe, driven by prevailing winds, closed some of the world’s busiest airports. About 100,000 flights were canceled and airlines lost an estimated $2 to $3 billion. The response of governments to the ash cloud over Europe also raised doubt about the ability of European countries to work together for the benefit of each other.

Iceland volcano eruption quiet for now

The volcano eruption in Iceland and the resulting ash cloud over Ireland  left thousands stranded in airports across Ireland, including Dublin and Shannon. AOL reports that about 20 flights were canceled at London’s Heathrow airport and some areas of northwest Scotland remained off-limits after flights resumed in Ireland Tuesday morning. However, the Irish Aviation Authority’s chief executive, Eamon Brennan, was quoted by The Times of London as telling Ireland’s RTE Radio, “At the moment the volcano is more or less dormant, but should it re-erupt again, we’d be faced with this problem.” The authority added in a statement that winds from the north could present new problems later this week.

Europe works on ash cloud response

The ash cloud over Ireland from the Iceland volcano happened on the same day European transportation ministers met in Brussells to deal with future ash clouds over Europe. The BBC reported that the European Union transportation ministers agreed to measures that may mitigate the effects of travel disruption caused by by the volcanic cloud. These include speeding up the creation of a single European regulator for airspace over Europe and rules that would allow governments to compensate airlines for losses due to the shutdown of airspace last month.