Lessons have been learnt from the Icelandic volcano eruption that crippled Europe’s airspace last year, and airports are dealing with the current ash cloud situation much more effectively, Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe has said.
For example, in April 2010 European governments pursued a blanket approach to airspace closure, leading to nearly 8,000 flight cancellations on the first day of the ash crisis. In comparison, this year just 500 flights have been cancelled so far.
Jankovec said: “For those feeling a sense of déjà vu, I can tell you that this latest eruption is being handled in a very different manner.
“Lessons have been learnt from the previous volcanic ash shock in April 2010.”
As the situation is evolving by the hour, airports across Europe are gearing up for the possibility of further disruption and working closely with their airline partners, doing all they can to keep passengers informed.
Most flights have resumed across the UK today after yesterday saw thousands of passengers affected by grounded planes at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Barra, Prestwick, Cumbernauld, Londonderry, Tiree, Carlisle and Durham Tees Valley.
The UK’s air traffic control company, NATS, said that harmful concentrations of ash dispersed from UK airspace overnight and it is expected to remain clear until at least 1900 today (Wednesday).
Ash might return to affect the country on Friday with the potential to disrupt flights, although Iceland's meteorological office has said that the volcano has stopped erupting.
Elsewhere, the air space above North Germany was closed earlier today and Germany's Meteorological Service said it would not allow any takeoffs or landings from Berlin's Tegel or Schoenefeld airports between 11am and 2pm.
Airports in Bremen, Hamburg and Luebeck were closed due to the ash, but are now beginning to re-open.
Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, secretary general of Association of European Airlines (AEA), said: “Compared with a year ago, so far we are seeing a stronger unity and clarity of response which is absolutely vital to airlines and the travelling public.
“Although further air traffic disruptions cannot be ruled out, the new procedures have enabled airlines to maintain extremely high safety standards and stable operations, while minimising passenger inconvenience.”