European airports reopen

LONDON — Aviation authorities introduced relaxed flight safety rules Monday to minimize more disruptions caused by a volcano eruption in Iceland, as three of Europe’s busiest airports reopened after a dense volcanic ash cloud dissipated.

LONDON — Aviation authorities introduced relaxed flight safety rules Monday to minimize more disruptions caused by a volcano eruption in Iceland, as three of Europe’s busiest airports reopened after a dense volcanic ash cloud dissipated.

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said it agreed with airlines, regulators and engine manufacturers on new rules that would let planes fly for a limited time at higher ash densities than currently allowed. The rules — which go into effect Tuesday — are subject to airlines getting a guarantee from their engine makers that their aircraft can safely tolerate the ash.

The body said that so far British budget carrier Flybe was the only airline that satisfied those conditions, but it expected other airlines to follow soon and European authorities to introduce similar rules.

British air traffic control company NATS said the new rules meant that restrictions on British airspace could now be eased.

“There is mounting evidence that aircraft can fly safely through areas of medium density, provided some additional precautions are taken. This is now what has been agreed,” the company’s CEO Richard Deakin said. “As a result of this change, there are no predicted restrictions on U.K. airspace in the immediate future.”

London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport— some of Europe’s biggest air travel hubs — reopened Monday after they closed because of volcanic ash worries. All three warned travellers it would take time for airlines to clear the backlog of delayed flights and to contact their airlines before going to the airport.

All British, Scottish and Irish airspace will remain open at least until early Tuesday, but airspace over the North Sea was still restricted, affecting some helicopter operations.

Eurocontrol, the continent’s air traffic control agency, said 28,000 flights were expected Monday in Europe — about 1,000 less than normal — mainly due to the disruptions in Britain and the Netherlands.

Iceland’s Reykjavik airport was closed Monday. The Icelandic civil protection agency said the ash cloud was drifting to the north, and was not expected to travel to Europe in the next two days.

Germany sent up two test flights Sunday to measure the ash cloud, but there was no word yet on the results of those tests. Still, Germany said Monday the latest ash cloud should not affect its airports.

“At this time, the concentration of ash above German air space is so low that there are no reductions in air traffic,” German Air Traffic Controllers said.

Ash can clog jet engines. The April 14 eruption at Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano forced most countries in northern Europe to shut their airspace between April 15-20, grounding more than 100,000 flights and an estimated 10 million travellers worldwide.

The shutdown cost airlines more than $2 billion, and carriers complained about what they described as arbitrary closures. British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh called the latest disruptions “a gross overreaction to a very minor risk.”

“I am very concerned that we have decisions on opening and closing of airports based on a theoretical model,” he said. “There was no evidence of ash in the skies over London today yet Heathrow was closed.”

Last week, the European air safety agency proposed drastically narrowing the continent’s no-fly zone because of volcanic ash to one similar to that used in the U.S. The proposal still must be approved.

Eurostar added four extra trains Monday — an additional 3,500 seats — between London and Paris to help travellers cope.

Eyjafjallajokul (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) erupted in April for the first time in nearly two centuries. During its last eruption, starting in 1821, its emissions rumbled on for two years.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ice shifted to the shoreline at Sylvan Lake on April 21. (Photo contributed by Andrea Swainson)
Icy shores of Sylvan Lake

A local photographer has captured how the ice has shifted to the… Continue reading

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, Jeremy Fleming, head of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), in London. Western countries risk losing control of technologies that are key to internet security and economic prosperity to nations with competing values like China and Russia if they don’t act to deal with the threat, one of the U.K.’s top spy chiefs warned on Friday, April 23, 2021. “Significant technology leadership is moving East” and causing a conflict of interests and values, Jeremy Fleming, director of government electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, said in a speech. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
UK spy chief says West faces ‘moment of reckoning’ on tech

China’s Foreign Ministry condemn the remarks

Brooke Henderson, of Canada, watches her tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Canadian Brooke Henderson vaults into tie for fourth at LPGA Tour event

Henderson is sixth in the world women’s golf rankings

Switzerland’s skip Silvana Tirinzoni makes a call during a women’s curling match against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Natacha Pisarenko
Previously unbeaten women’s teams suffer setbacks at Grand Slam curling event

Top six women’s and men’s teams qualify for the playoffs.

FILE - Gal Gadot arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gadot is using her Hollywood star power to spotlight remarkable women from around the world. The “Wonder Woman” actor is host and executive producer of a new documentary series “National Geographic Presents IMPACT with Gal Gadot,” premiering Monday, April 26. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Gal Gadot spotlights women’s stories in new docuseries

First episode follows a young Black figure skating coach in Detroit

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino listens to speakers during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday October 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway

New program aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates permanent status

LtE bug
Letter: Questions around city funding for Westerner

The Advocate article on April 21 on page 3 “Council to discuss… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs' Nick Foligno (71) and Mitchell Marner (16) celebrate Marner's goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Taylor Pendrith from Richmond Hill, Ont. salutes the crowd after sinking a birdie on the 18th hole to come in at five under par during first round of play at the Canadian Open golf championship Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

Most Read