The EU Reacts to the Volcano Situation

The consequences of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano are strongly felt throughout Europe, with most of the EU airspace still closed because of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere that can damage airplane engines.

The question now is what is the EU doing about it?

The Spanish Secretary of State , Diego López Garrido and the Vice-president of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, Siim Kallas, met on Sunday with Eurocontrol to find out first hand the evolution of the volcanic cloud that has forced the closure of most of the airports in Northern Europe.

More, the EU transport ministers will be meeting on video conference today to get a grip of the situation and to decide on common measures. The airline companies at the same time are demanding the lift of airspace restrictions after flight tests by Lufthansa, KLM and other airlines that conducted more than a dozen flights without any problems during the weekend. One airport company manager quoted by FT said that “the impact is already worse than 9/11”.

Meanwhile the airspace ban has delayed various EU meetings, including a the accession talks with Croatia, the meeting of the Fisheries Council. The plenary session of the European Parliament is also in doubt, since many MEPs may not be able to reach Strasbourg.

I’ll post an update when we have results from the meeting of transport ministers.

UPDATE: BBC reports that the body that represents the world’s airlines, IATA, has criticised Europe’s governments for the way they closed air space. British Airways demands compensation from the EU due to the accumulated loss.

Siim Kallas has issued a press statement, saying that there is a meeting going on of all Eurocontrol members, national civil aviation authorities, national air navigation providers, representatives of the airline and airport industry, as well as the Spanish Presidency. The aim is to agree technical solutions for stronger European co-operation to maximise available airspace. He says that they are working hard to agree technical solutions to do that today.

UPDATE2: EU transport ministers agreed to gradually lift airspace restrictions where possible.

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