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'Ash Attack': European air traffic situation: uncertainty prevails

19-Apr-2010 10:37 AM

ANSPs: Most Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) have closed all their airspace until late Monday (19-Apr-2010), although the situation remains highly uncertain and ANSPs are working with EUROCONTROL, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre London and European authorities. Some ANSPs have opened airports and airspace sections to IFR operations. VFR operations are permitted by some ANSPs at low altitudes.

CANSO: Warned that the knock-on effect of volcanic ash plume over Northern Europe could disrupt European airspace for several days. CANSO noted that air traffic control organisations are "following long-established protocols designed to ensure passenger safety". [more - CANSO]

CANSO: “This entire situation has a significant impact on the airspace system and will stretch ANSP resources around the world, but particularly in Europe. Traffic will have to be reorganised or re-routed and flights replanned, all on a dynamic and quite unpredictable basis. We will have to expect some knock-on effect to the system for several days. But air traffic control organisations will be taking safe and sensible decisions, and are following the correct policies for volcanic ash plumes which were established and enhanced after serious incidents in 1982 and 1989,” Graham Lake, Director General. Source: CANSO, 16-Apr-2010.

EUROCONTROL: Stated it expects more than 63,000 flights in total will have been cancelled between 15-Apr-2010 and 19-Apr-2010. Flight cancellations have progressively worsened as the volcanic ash cloud has spread south through European airspace.

European airspace movements:

  • 15-Apr-2010: 20,842, -27.1% year-on-year;
  • 16-Apr-2010: 11,659; -59.2%;
  • 17-Apr-2010: 4,886, -78.4%;
  • 18-Apr-2010: 4,000, -84% (estimated).

Air traffic control services are not being provided to civil aircraft in the major part of European airspace, including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, most of France, most of Germany, Hungary, Ireland, northern Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, north Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the UK.

Southern Europe, including parts of Spain, Portugal, the southern Balkan area, southern Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey remain open and flights are taking place in these areas. [more - EUROCONTROL]

Individual European ANSPs:

  • Avinor: Airspace opened for traffic from Stavanger and north to Berlevåg. Airspace is still closed in the eastern part of Finnmark (Kirkenes, Vadsø, Vardø og Båtsfjord). Oslo airport, Gardermoen (OSL) will be opened for limited traffic and there may be expansions during the night. The airspace over Kristiansand (Kjevik), Torp and Rygge is still closed. [more - Avinor]
  • Belgocontrol: Airspace closed until 2000 on 19-Apr-2010. IFR flights are not authorized. VFR flights below 4.500 ft during daylight conditions. [more - Belgocontrol]
  • DFS: Airspace of German airports is expected to be closed until 1400 on 19-Apr-2010. [more - DFS]
  • EANS Estonia: Airspace closed for IFR (Instrument Flight rules) traffic by until 1500 on 19-Apr-2010. No current restrictions in place for visual air traffic; air traffic controllers continue working as usual and services are provided, if necessary. [more - EANS]
  • Finavia: Tampere-Pirkkala and Turku airports opened between 0000 and 1800 local time on 19-Apr-2010. Helsinki Airport closed to flight operations. [more - Finavia]
  • Hungarocontrol: Airspace will be closed from 1900 16-Apr-2010. No timeframe given for potential re-opening. [more - Hungarocontrol]
  • Irish Aviation Authority: Irish airspace closed to commercial traffic until at least 1300 on 19-Apr-2010. No commercial passenger flights, including North American traffic, will operate from any Irish airport during this period. [more - IAA]
  • LFV: Airspace north of the 62° latitude (north of Söderhamn) is open, as are blocks of Norwegian airspace. Restrictions still apply to the remainder of Swedish airspace. The overall picture regarding the ash cloud is still very uncertain. [more - LFV]
  • NATS: Current restrictions across UK controlled airspace due to the volcanic ash cloud will remain in place until at least 1900 on 19-Apr-2010. Some limited opportunities in Shetland for flights, subject to individual co-ordination with ATC. [more - NATS][more - UK CAA]
  • Naviair: Danish Airspace closed until at least 1400 on 19-Apr-2010. [more - Naviair]
  • Oro Navigacija: Lithuanian airspace closed from 16-Apr-2010. No timeframe given for potential re-opening. [more - Oro Navigacija]
  • Slovenian control: Airspace fully opened from 18-Apr-2010 (from 20.10) until 0600 19-Apr-2010 [more - Slovenian Control]
  • Skyways: Airspace in southern Sweden is still closed. Airspace in northern sections of Sweden and parts of Norway was opened over 18-Apr-2010. [more - Skyways]