Iceland volcano eruptions continue, flights cancelled
May 24, 2011, 13:12 GMT
A NASA handout natural-color satellite image dated 22 May 2011 and made available 23 May 2011. EPA/NASA, GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response Team
Reykjavik/Stockholm - Ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano forced the cancellation Tuesday of some 250 flight cancellations in Europe, mainly in British airspace.
The Brussels-based association of European air traffic controllers, Eurocontrol, said there was also 'a strong possibility' that parts of Denmark and southern Scandinavia would be affected.
When Grimsvotn erupted Saturday it created a plume about 20 kilometres high. By Monday it was between 8 to 10 kilometres, and on Tuesday the Icelandic Meteorological Office said the plume was lower, at between 3 and 5 kilometres.
'There is much less activity in the volcano, less tremors, lower plume and less ash,' Urdur Gunnarsdottir of the Icelandic civil protection and emergency agency told the German Press Agency dpa.
A year ago, a volcano that erupted under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier caused major disruptions to air traffic in Europe, with hundreds of flights grounded for days due to mechanical safety concerns over the volcanic ash cloud.
Following the disruptions in 2010, European transport ministers and authorities introduced rules on flying based on ash concentration. Flying was banned in the high-risk zone, but individual countries were allowed to decide whether to allow flights in the medium-risk zone.
Data from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in London that tracks the ash cloud is a key source.
In Brussels, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas Tuesday said there were plans in place to call a meeting of EU transport ministers if needed but measures introduced after the 2010 eruption appeared sufficient 'to maintain the majority of flights.'
Scandinavian aviation authorities were preparing for disruptions, pending on the level of ash concentration. Some flights from airports in western Norway were cancelled over the ash, aviation agency Avinor said.
Passengers were advised to regularly check websites operated by airlines, travel operators or airports they were leaving from.
British Airways, KLM, Aer Lingus, EasyJet and Ryanair were among airlines that earlier cancelled flights from all Scottish airports to destinations within Britain and abroad.
Iceland late Monday reopened all its international airports, including the main international airport at Keflavik.
Ash continued to fall in Iceland, affecting farms and communities south of the volcano and in combination with strong winds created an 'ash blizzard' with very poor visibility, Teitur Arason of the Meteorological Office said.
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