Monday, May 23, 2011

Iceland volcano: European airlines on watch for flight disruptions

By Jane Engle Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 23, 2011, 9:24 a.m.

This is a good time to keep in touch with your airline if you plan to fly in the next few days to Europe because there is a chance that ash from the huge volcanic eruption in Iceland over the weekend could delay or even cancel your flight.

Even as Iceland’s main airport prepared to possibly reopen Monday, Europe was on watch for potential flight disruptions as the ash cloud drifted toward the Continent.

"There is a strong possibility that parts of the ash cloud may impact parts of Scotland and Ireland in the coming 24 hours"" Eurocontrol, the European air traffic management agency, said on its website Monday, citing reports from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London. "Due to unstable meteorological conditions, it is not possible to identify with certainty the movements of the ash cloud beyond that time frame."

Last year, hundreds of flights were canceled and thousands of passengers were stranded when ash from another Iceland volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, spread over Europe, forcing aircraft to be grounded. Such a widespread closure is not generally expected in the aftermath of the weekend’s eruption.

In a notice on its website Monday, Icelandair airline said KeflavĂ­k International Airport (KEF), which serves Reykjavik, the capital, was expected to reopen at 6 p.m. local time Monday after being shut by volcanic ash. The airport’s website did not indicate its plans.

Icelandair has been offering to refund fares of passengers affected by the airport closure or to allow them to reschedule their flights. It cautioned callers Monday that they may face long wait times due to a high volume of calls.


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