Europe News

Europe Grounded by Icelandic Volcano; Flights Canceled

An Icelandic volcano continues to pump ash into the Northern Atlantic atmosphere causing chaos for travelers across Europe and the world.

Airplane on runway
Getty Images

Flights from nearly every major airport in Europe have been cancelled with only limited services running in Southern Europe and there is little hope of the situation improving Monday.

Eurocontrol, which is the European aviation control agency, says it expects only 4,000 flights in European airspace on Sunday versus an average of 24,000 for a Sunday.

It said air traffic control services were not being provided in most European airspace, but flights were taking place in southern Europe, including parts of Spain and Portugal, the southern Balkans, southern Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey according to the Reuters news agency.

Hundreds of thousands of people are stranded within and outside Europe. Reports indicate hotel bookings at airports as far a field as Beijing and Singapore are being impacted by the aviation lock-down.

BA has cancelled all flights in and out of the UK on Monday and other airlines across the continent are following suit. Anyone flying within or to and from Europe is advised to call their carrier before traveling to the airport.

Small Hope for Travelers

Air France-KLM says it has conducted a number of test flights that where successful and wants to conduct another 9 today. In a statement the airline said it hopes to resume all flights as soon as possible.

The UK’s met office says the Eyjafjallajökull volcano is still erupting and weather patterns continue to blow volcanic ash towards the UK and northern Europe.

The skies across much of Europe remain very clear with little or no clouds being seen in London over the weekend. With no flights taking off from any of the UK capitals major airports there is no contrails to help form clouds but any atmospheric benefits from the lack of flights are likely to offset by the Volcano.

Peter Coxon, a professor at Dublin’s Trinity College tells that the tephra (ash) will “offset of opaqueness by lack of air traffic will be made up by added particles from the ash”

Coxon says it will be interesting to find out what other gasses have been emitted by the volcano and whether the ice melting off the erupting area will allow further vents to open. “The probable climate impact so far is minimal though - it takes a very large volume of ash to drop the temperature. If current eruption continues unabated it may drop surface temps in Northern Europe by a few tenths of a degree Celsius”

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