Skies reopen

Skies reopen

The UK’s aviation space was reopened last night, after six days of almost total lockdown. As airlines release updated flying schedules, they are faced with the logistical nightmare of repatriating the 150,000 Britons trapped abroad, as well as getting visitors to the UK back to their home countries. While the volcano ash that caused the chaos remains in the atmosphere, safety tests from various airlines indicate that planes can fly through low density ash. Thomson Airways took to the skies for test flights on Monday and Tuesday, flying six aircraft to Iceland. After a thorough investigation of the aircraft, two Airbus A320 and three Boeing 757s, the airlines confirmed no technical difficulties during the flight and no damage to any of the aircraft. Meanwhile BA’s CEO Willie Walsh has sat through several test flights with the nation’s flagship carrier, none of which produced problems. In light of the new evidence, the Civil Aviation Authority has declared it safe to fly. Three airline associations - ELFAA (European Low Fares Airline Association), ERA (European Regions Airlines Association) and IACA (International Air Carrier Association) yesterday called on the European Commission and European Member States to give a firm commitment to support airlines. The bodies argue that while airlines are doing their best to safely repatriate passengers, according to obligations under Regulation 261/2004, governments cannot shirk their responsibility to passengers. ELFAA, ERA and IACA have proposed a series of operational and financial measures to the European Commission which urgently need to be put in place to alleviate the financial pressure currently on airlines. The disruptions from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano are expected to have a worse impact on airlines than 9/11. Within a few days of the disaster 313 airports were paralysed across Europe and by Sunday only 4,000 of the 24,000 flights that would normally operate across Europe were made, figures from Eurocontrol, the air-safety agency, show. With carriers having lost in excess of

Gary Marshall
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Gary Marshall
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