24 May 2011

Europe: Ash cloud forces airlines to change flight schedules

update II (25 May 2011): According to Eurocontrol, the ash clouds appear to be dissipating quickly due to reduced activity from Iceland's Grimsvötn volcano. Air traffic is therefore expected to be back to normal on 26 May 2011.

update (25 May 2011): According to Eurocontrol, European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, the ash cloud was not expected to affect many of the trans-Atlantic flights because it was mostly north of the usual routes and was not reaching above 35,000 feet. Airliners crossing the Atlantic usually cruise at altitudes above 37,000 feet, where the thin air density reduces fuel burn. Some trans-Atlantic services may suffer “minor delays” though as they have to take longer routes to avoid Iceland.
Travellers should however be aware of the situation in Europe which may result in sudden closure of destination airports in Europe, causing flights to be diverted or not leaving in the first place. Please contact your airlines to confirm the status of your flights.
Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) confirmed that flights between South Africa and Europe have not been affected by the ash cloud caused by the Grimsvötn volcano in Iceland so far.

Ash from a massive plume of smoke from an eruption of Iceland's most active volcano, the Grimsvötn, will spread south to parts of Europe during the week.

Airlines, such as British Airways and KLM, already began cancelling flights to, from and in Britain late on Monday (23 May 2011) because of the ash cloud in its airspace, although experts expected no repeat of travel chaos from the eruption of the vulcano Eyjafjallajökull about a year ago. The ash cloud has also swept over western Norway and Denmark, stalling air traffic in parts of Norway and causing delays in Copenhagen, Denmark. More countries will follow and even transatlantic flights are likely to be affected. The UK Civil Aviation Authority said in the meantime that Grimsvötn's ash cloud could affect British-bound transatlantic flights on Thursday or Friday, depending on wind direction. We keep you posted!

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