Iceland’s volcano is erupting again, producing a new, bigger ash cloud.
An ash plume produced by the volcanic eruption last Wednesday has been disrupting air travel across to and from Europe, leaving thousands of travellers stranded in airports across the globe.
British authorities are now reporting more eruptions, producing a new cloud headed straight for UK airspace.
The good news is that the current ash cloud is not expected to enter Maritime airspace. The Canadian Meteorological Centre says satellite imagery and reports from pilots indicate no evidence of any significant amount of volcanic ash west of a line that runs through Iceland.
There were concerns the ash had the potential to blow toward Newfoundland, and several flights were cancelled Monday morning – though air travel has since resumed.
The bad news is that travellers planning trips to Europe likely won’t be leaving today – and may still face a long wait before going anywhere.
Scientist Chris Waythomas with the Alaska Volcano Observatory says the problem could be compounded by the fact that this eruption is expected to continue for some time
“If it continues to produce ash clouds that get above 20,000 feet, this will continue to be a problem for air travel,” he said.
Air Canada resumed flights Monday night to Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Tel Aviv and Rome — though it still isn’t flying to London, Frankfurt or Munich. Only limited flights are being allowed to resume today and most of British airspace — including London — remains closed.
Air Travelers’ Association President David Stempler says even if flights resume today, it could take up to two weeks before all stranded airline passengers reach their final destinations.
“I’ve heard from one airline that they’re not able to get people out until May 5,” he said. “That’s when they’re booking them, because the flights were so heavily booked normally, and they’re just looking for extra seats on every flight. So it’s going to be a very long time to straighten this mess out.”
Canadians stranded as a result of the volcanic eruption are angry the federal government has not done anything to help them.
The British government has dispatched an aircraft carrier and assault ship across the channel to pick up stranded citizens, while the French consul general to Canada was at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Monday to ensure his stranded citizens have a place to stay.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs tells the Globe and Mail the Canadian government only rescues citizens if they are in danger.
At JFK airport in New York, the AP’s Warren Levinson says some terminals are starting to resemble refugee camps.
“Travellers stranded here now have cots and blankets,” he said. “As the shutdown continues, the airport brought in tractor-trailer trucks with showers fed by a nearby fire hydrant.”
The airline industry says it has lost at least $1 billion worldwide due to five days of closed airports.
But the international pilots’ federation says a decision to resume flight operations in Europe must be based on safey concerns rather than being economically driven.
Gideon Ewers, spokesman of the London-based group, says historical evidence of the effects of volcanic ash demonstrates that it presents a very real threat to flight safety.