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Iceland volcanic eruption closes northern European airspace

16-Apr-2010 10:07 AM

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier volcano erupted on 14-Apr-2010, with the resulting ash clouds forcing the closure of airspace in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belgium and extensive airport closures in France and Germany. Extensive flight cancellations by European carriers and airlines operating into Europe have resulted. Air Navigation Service Providers, airport authorities, airlines and EUROCONTROL are in constant communication to advise all parties of the measures expected.

Avinor announced the closure of Norwegian controlled air space and cancellation of all flights from Norwegian airspace. The airspace closure includes the oceanic control area, affecting inter-continental flights. [ more - Avinor]

Belgocontrol stated its airspace would be closed for IFR flights until at least 16:00, 16-Apr-2010. [more - Belgocontrol]

European Commission noted airports and air traffic control organisations have taken swift and appropriate action with "excellent coordination and cooperation at the European level, notably within EUROCONTROL". The Commission stated that EU air passenger rights apply in this situation but in an exceptional circumstance such as this, passengers are "not however entitled to additional financial compensation that would be the case where delays or cancellations are the fault of the airline". [more - European Commission]

EUROCONTROL Central Flow Management Unit suspended provision of air traffic control services to affected airspace. EUROCONTROL expects 50% of trans-Atlantic travel to be cancelled on 16-Apr-2010.  [more - EUROCONTROL]

Finavia stated traffic restrictions will apply until at least 15:00, 16-Apr-2010.

Naviair stated all of Danish airspace will be closed until at least 08:00, 16-Apr-2010. Forecasts of the ash cloud's movements indicate that the closure of airspace is anticipated to be extended. [more - Naviair].

NATS stated, in line with international civil aviation policy, no flights other than agreed emergencies are permitted in UK-controlled airspace until at least 06:00 on 16-Apr-2010. UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated it is working with NATS and UK airlines to ensure compliance during the  restrictions. [more - NATS] [more - UK CAA]

Irish Department of Transport formed a taskforce to deal with the issues arising from the ash cloud, including representatives from government departments and the Irish Aviation Authority. The department stated all aircraft are grounded until further notice. Some restrictions at Cork and Shannon and some regional airports have been lifted, although full restrictions at Dublin will remain until at least 11:00, 16-Apr-2010. [more - Irish Department of Transport] [more _ IAA]