Ash cloud causes air traffic jam
A mammoth cloud of volcanic ash is stretching 1,250 miles across the North Atlantic and forcing aircraft to divert south into a long-haul traffic jam, Irish and European air authorities said Friday.
Forecasters warned that the rapidly spreading cloud of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano was projected to reach southern Greenland and the northwest tip of Spain by Saturday.
They stressed that the aviation obstacle does not pose any immediate threat to shut airports or ground aircraft once again, but is forcing trans-Atlantic jets to divert into increasingly clogged air corridors. Most are diverting south into Spanish air space but, as that route suffers jams and the cloud grows closer, more flights are facing diversions north into the Arctic.
In Brussels, the European air-traffic management agency Eurocontrol said flight control centers on both sides of the Atlantic were drafting new routes for aircraft that would add one to two hours to the times required to cross the ocean. Eurocontrol advised aircraft to carry extra fuel.
Ireland, which has borne the brunt of this week's renewed invasion of Icelandic ash into European air space, shut down but then rapidly reopened six western airports Friday as the cloud remained sufficiently west of its Atlantic coastline.
Ireland and Scotland also suffered airport shutdowns Tuesday and Wednesday. They were the first such closures since a majority of European air links were shut down April 14-20, stranding 10 million passengers.
-- Associated Press
Is the ash cloud playing havoc with your travel plans. Send us an e-mail, or post a comment below.
The comments to this entry are closed.