The biggest shutdown of European air travel since World War Two is set to continue for several days, as a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland continues to highlight a continent’s reliance on air travel.
“The knock-on effect of the volcanic ash plume over Northern Europe is likely to disrupt European airspace for several days,” the Netherlands-based Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (Canso) said in a statement on Friday.
Europe’s three biggest airports in London, Paris and Frankfurt are closed ,forcing millions of travellers onto overcrowded trains, boats and taxis.
“This entire situation has a significant impact on the airspace system and will stretch air navigation service providers’ resources around the world, but particularly in Europe.
“Traffic will have to be reorganised and rerouted and flights replanned, all on a dynamic and quite unpredictable basis.”
But others – especially those who live in the vicinity of airports – were quite pleased at the disruption.
“It’s a historic moment,” data manager Peter Smith told the Guardian newspaper from his local beer garden.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to sit here and have a quiet drink outside in the afternoon.” A colleague added that it was normally “not a very pleasant place to be. The beer usually shakes. But today it’s actually quite relaxing.”
“I love it”, said another.
The International Air Transport Association says the fallout from the volcano’s eruption is costing airlines more than $200m day, with the Scandinavian airline SAS warning it will have to temporarily lay off up to two-and-a-half thousand employees in Norway if flights remain grounded on Monday.
The economic problems being uncovered by such the importance of air travel to the modern economy are being highlighted around the world – the BBC reports that Kenya’s flower industry is being stung with losses of $1.5m and $2m a day.
A cloud of ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland spread further across Europe on Friday, grounding thousands of flights in the continent’s biggest air travel shutdown since World War II.