European air travel normalises after ash chaos | india | Hindustan Times
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European air travel normalises after ash chaos

india Updated: Apr 22, 2010 12:02 IST

Air travel across Europe is set to normalise on Thursday after days of airspace closures and cancelled flights caused by an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano.

In most European countries, all scheduled flights are to go ahead, authorities said. On Wednesday, the last remaining flight bans were lifted, ending an unprecedented closure of European airspace.

The European air safety coordination body Eurocontrol said 80 per cent of scheduled flights took place on Wednesday, while it expected that "almost 100 percent" would take off or land Thursday.

Flights across Europe had been suspended for fear that ash from the volcano under the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier could turn into a glassy substance inside jet engines, damaging them.

Since the start of the airport closures last Thursday, three million passengers had their flights cancelled, the German airport associations said. More than half of the 190,000 flights scheduled to take off in Europe in the last week were cancelled, Eurocontrol said.

On Sunday, the peak of the shutdown, 80 percent of flights in Europe failed to take off.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the air ban has cost its members $1.7 billion.

Companies have also been attempting to assess the fallout for their businesses of the failure to deliver orders, delays in receiving spare parts, cancelled meetings, and stranded staff.

Most ordinary travellers have been left out of pocket by the crisis, forced to pay for extra hotel bills, new air tickets or alternative transport as they waited for the volcanic ash threat to recede.

Airlines have slammed the closures and are questioning whether the size and denseness of the ash cloud over Europe really posed that big a threat.

German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer defended the measures, saying that safety had to come first.

Ash from the volcano is now blown into the northern Atlantic, meteorologists said. The eruption has subsided.