Ireland airports reopen as Iceland volcano ash dissipates, but more may be on the way
Airports in Ireland were shut for about eight hours on Tuesday as winds carried ash from the Icelandic volcano into flight paths. Though travel is now getting back to normal, meteorologists say summer winds could lead to more disruption at European airports.
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Evelyn Cusack, deputy head of forecasting with Met Éireann, the Irish meteorological office, says it’s difficult to predict when the ash will come and go but that typical Irish summer conditions are adding to the problem.Skip to next paragraph
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“We have forecasts for ten to fifteen days ahead. Right now there’s high pressure to the west of Ireland and the winds are moving clockwise, steering the ash down from Iceland,” she said.
In the short term there seems little hope for permanently clear skies: “Our ten day forecast has no sign of Atlantic southwesterlies that would help move it away,” Ms. Cusack said.
A status report published by the Icelandic Meteorological Office and Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland warned: “There are no measurable indications that the eruption is about to end.”
“During the closure previous we were very happy to take the advice provided to us that it was a safety issue [but] there are certainly some questions on how long airspace needed to remain closed,” says Stephen McNamara, Ryanair’s head of communications. “We do support the decision to close airspace, the issue all airlines are having is the impact it's having on passengers and the industry – we’re left carrying the can as the insurer of last resort.”
Mr. McNamara says he does not expect another full-scale closure of airspace and sees no signs that people have lost faith in air travel.
“Nobody knows what's going to happen. I don't think we'll see the level of disruption we saw two weeks ago. What we may see is intermittent clouds. Today it is Ireland, tomorrow it could be Sweden,” he added.
Spanish transport minister Jose Blanco has called for rapid implementation of the ‘Single European Sky’ (SES) project to unite airspace management. The issue is set to be discussed at a meeting of Europe’s Transport Council on May 4 and is supported by the IATA. SES is a European Commission initiative that many feel would reduce the impact of future events such as the volcanic eruption.
IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani, issued a statement saying he supports the move, adding: “The volcanic ash crisis that paralyzed European air transport for nearly a week made it crystal clear that the 'SES' is a critical missing link in Europe’s infrastructure.”
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