April 20th
2010

Update on airport situation

The European sky opens partially, but the situation remains uncertain due to a new cloud.

During the last hours have been lifted flight restrictions that existed in Austria, Romania and the Czech Republic. On the other hand, remains fully or partially closed the airspace of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Italy and Switzerland. Most European countries with restrictive measures in the airspace remain them as well today.

After five days of cessation of flights, the European aviation is restarted. Permits for up to 60 % of the scheduled flights were possible throughout the day, according to Eurocontrol.
This is made possible by an exceptional regulation which allows pilots to fly in good weather in a few thousand feet height at sight and also night flights are allowed in the states where it is approved.

The European Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) defined an area that will be excluded from flying until lowers the level of volcanic ash concentration, according to the state shown by Satellite images and updated every six hours. This area possibly will affect Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany and the UK.

Eurocontrol also set up a second space where the presence of these particles is considerably lower, so that countries can decide to allow the restart of air services. Finally, a third area will include the countries where have not been identified risks of contamination and therefore there is no reason to close the airspace.

The pilots union has expressed safety concerns about the widespread release of sight flights. “In our opinion, we can´t exclude with certainty that there might be incidents. The legal risk is now been transferred to the pilot.”

Meanwhile, in an attempt to repatriate the approximately 150.000 British “volcanic refugees “, the British government yesterday began implementing an unprecedented military operation led by the ships of the Navy. Two naval vessels are expected to arrive today in the channel and a third one in Northern Spain; these will embark civilians affected by the paralysis in air traffic.

Britain was on Thursday one of the first countries that closed its airspace due to the ash cloud caused by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano on Wednesday Eyjafjalla, capable of damaging the aircraft reactors.

The classes were to start yesterday in British schools have been suspended. One in 10 classes don´t have teachers as these are stuck abroad after the school vacations.

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