Icelandic volcano: situation "dynamic and variable"
Written by Editor, CIR
The latest update from NATS and the Met Office shows the situation regarding the volcanic eruption in Iceland remains dynamic and variable. Based on the latest Met Office information, part of Scottish airspace including Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh airports will continue to be available from 1300-1900 today, and also south to Newcastle Airport. Restrictions will remain in place over the rest of UK airspace below 20,000ft.
Some flights permitted
The latest NATS statement, published at 0900 today, reads: "Overnight the CAA, in line with new guidance from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) decided flights above the ash cloud will be permitted in the UK; between 1300-1900 this will enable aircraft movements above 20,000ft in UK airspace."
A further update is expected at about 1500 today.
A statement from British Airways chief executive, Willie Walsh, underlined the extreme nature of events: "This is an unprecedented situation that is having a huge impact on customers and airlines alike. We continue to offer as much support as we can to our customers, however, these are extraordinary circumstances that are beyond all airlines' control.
Following the volcanic eruption, virtually all British Airways flights have been grounded since 11.00 on Thursday April 15, 2010.
"To assist us with this situation, European airlines have asked the EU and national governments for financial compensation for the closure of airspace. There is a precedent for this to happen as compensation was paid after the closure of US airspace following the terrorist events of 9/11 and clearly the impact of the current situation is more considerable," Walsh continued. "We welcome the EU's initiative to address the economic consequences of the airspace closure on the air travel industry and the wider European economy. We are also in touch with the UK government which has set up a group to work on this issue as it recognises the impact on airlines and the contribution that aviation makes to the British economy."
British Airways estimates that the lost passenger and freight revenue together with the costs incurred on supporting passengers is approximately £15-20 million a day.
The company has significant funding available to it to sustain a considerable period of closure of the UK's airspace. At the start of the flying restrictions on April 14, 2010 it had more than £1.7 billion of cash and more than £400 million available credit lines which it can draw on if necessary.
British Airways has cancelled all flights in and out of the UK today. Its flying schedule remains under constant review and it will give customers as much notice as possible about their flights as it receives updates from NATS.