The bad news: Icelandic volcanic eruptions have started impacting operations of Indian carriers with fears of a repeat of last year’s crisis looming large. The good news: it’s not all that bad — yet.
Last year, the Eyjafjallajokull eruption had led to closure of European airspace for more than a week — the largest such closure since World War II.
On Saturday, Grimsvotn, Iceland’s most active volcano, erupted sending shivers down the spine of the aviation industry and flyers and putting Europe on high alert. Eyjafjallajokull had caused a loss of £2.5 billion (Rs18,000 crore) to the global aviation industry.
A Delhi-Chicago Air India flight had to take a detour on Monday due to flight restrictions over the European airspace. “As a result, we had to carry more fuel and had to offload some baggage,” said an Air India spokesperson.
Jet Airways has said it was a keeping a close watch on the situation in Europe.
“This is the peak travel period for Indians, both domestically and internationally,” said Kapil Kaul, South Asia CEO of Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an aviation consultancy and research firm. “So far, going by reports, it doesn’t look as if it would cause the kind of disruptions it caused last year.” He said aviation and meteorological agencies were “much better prepared” to handle the situation this year.
“Indian carriers will want to know what measures are in place to ensure business continuity without compromising safety and try to avoid closure of airspace seen last year...” said Saj Ahmad, London-based airline analyst from FBE Aerospace.
Top airline and DGCA officials said they were following the developments in Europe, which is a major transit hub as 30% of international traffic from India goes to and via Europe.
Volcanic ash is dangerous for aircraft and at least three crashes have been reported in the past resulting from it getting inside the engine.