The skies over Europe are beginning to re-open five days after a cloud of volcanic ash grounded flights and left hundreds of thousands stranded.
It will be a slow and long process but passengers will finally be able to fly home Tuesday morning. From Scotland to Germany, France and England planes will be cleared to take off because the ash is starting to dissipate.
“This is good news for Europe’s stranded passengers,” says European Union transport minister Siim Kallas “It’s good news for airline industry and other sectors of the economy hard hit by this crisis.”
As check-in desks are reopened, security is being increased for an expected rush of passengers. Officials warn, however, if the volcano in Iceland erupts once again flights could be grounded.
Airline heads are comparing their losses to September 11, in some cases saying the volcanic ash flight ban is burning their bottom lines more than the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The losses are estimated at $200 million a day.
Meanwhile, the latest data suggests the volcanic ash plume is having no impact on Canada’s East Coast.
Richard Hogue of the Canadian Meteorological Centre says satellite imagery and pilot accounts do not show significant evidence of ash to the west of Iceland.
An earlier assessment Sunday had flights grounded at St. John’s airport but most are back to regular schedule.
Hogue says the ash plume reached heights of about 11 kilometres shortly after the volcano erupted but dropped to two or three kilometres over the weekend.
He says if it remained higher for several days the outlook for Atlantic Canada may have been different causing airport closures in the region.