Clear Skies Over Europe? Not Yet
It’s no secret ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano (say that 10 times fast) has choked the skies over Europe since erputing on Apr. 14, grounding hundreds of thousands of flights; stranding passengers on both sides of the Atlantic; ruining (and extending) vacations; and serving as a healthy reminder of the indomitable power of Mother Nature. Here’s where things stand today:
- Iceland’s volcano spewed more ash into the sky Tuesday, continuing restrictions over UK air space and concerns that the cloud could choke jet engines.
- There is still no confirmed safe limit of ash through which an airplane can fly.
- Flights are restricted to those flying above 20,000 feet—above the ash belt.
- Half of the scheduled air traffic in Europe, or 14,000 flights, are said to be operational today.
- 75 percent of planes have resumed flights over France, Germany, and Italy; some Norway airports have opened; Finland’s airports remain closed; and flights under 20,000 feet are still restricted over Denmark.
- Current wind patterns suggest there will be no significant movement of the ash cloud until Friday.
- The airline industry continues to lose $200 million a day.
- 6.8+ million passengers have been affected, more than on Sept. 11.
- The British government dispatched a navy ship to pick up military personnel and stranded passengers in Santander, Spain, and Calais, France; and it’s sent buses to pick-up points in Barcelona and Madrid.
- Hundreds of passengers trying to get in and out of Europe are camped out at airports, including Orlando, where stranded travelers were granted free passes to Disney and SeaWorld parks, and JFK, where impatient fliers have just been treated to their first shower in days—in a truck.
Adrien Glover is the online deputy editor at Travel + Leisure.