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Airlines now criticizing British models of predicted ash movement

The United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph reports that airlines forced to cancel hundreds of flights over the past several days because of the movement of volcanic ash, are now critical of scientific models used to predict where that ash will go next.  These criticisms came directly in the wake of the nightlong closure of the United Kingdom’s two busiest airports by passengers, Heathrow (IATA: LHR; ICAO: EGLL) and Gatwick (IATA: LGW; ICAO: EGKK).  The CEOs of the United Kingdom flag carrier British Airways and the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair, and also the managing director of Thomson Airways, the U.K.’s third-largest carrier by passengers carried, concurred that the model now in place is producing inaccurately ominous results.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said flatly, there was “no evidence” of an ash cloud over London during the time the region’s two largest airports were closed this morning.  Michael O’Leary of Ryanair called the scientific model that prompted the closures “outdated, inappropriate, and entirely imaginary,” and current Volcano Concentration Charts, “substantially fictitious.”  Mr. O’Leary pushed for a total rejection of the model favored by the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority, and for acceptance of the American scientific model, which he described in precisely the opposite manner.  Chris Browne of Thomson Airways offered probably the mildest criticism, calling only for more efficient communication between decision-makers, and emphasizing safety.

Heathrow and Gatwick both reopened at 7:00 this morning local time (2:00 this morning EDT).  London City Airport (IATA: LCY; ICAO: EGLC) was also forced to close for six hours earlier today (local time) during the time when airspace over central London was closed to all aircraft, regardless of departure point or arrival point.  London City is now operating with only limited interruption according to its website.  The two suburban airports Luton (IATA: LTN; ICAO: EGGW) and Stansted (IATA: STN; ICAO: EGSS) did not close this morning.  However, both now caution air travelers of possible cancellations throughout today.  All Greater London airports advise air travelers to keep close contact with their operating airline for specific updates.

British Airways was founded in 1973 when the British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways merged.  Its main hub is Heathrow.  Ryanair was founded in 1985 as a low-cost alternative, and has hubs at Stansted and Dublin Airport (IATA: DUB; ICAO: EIDW) in Ireland.  Thomson Airways is the product of a merger among three airlines, the oldest of which was founded in 1962.  It maintains fifteen equal hubs throughout the U.K. and the Irish Republic.  The Civil Aviation Authority is directly analogous to the American agency called the Federal Aviation Administration.

related stories

Heathrow and Gatwick closed as of 1:00 A.M. local time Monday (May 16, 2010)

Keflavík Airport is closed again due to volcanic ash (May 14, 2010)

Eyjafjallajökull damage report, and spectacular new video (May 13, 2010)

Keflavík and others might close temporarily tomorrow (May 7, 2010)

The spread of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull over time (May 4, 2010)

original story (Daily Telegraph)

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Reader Comments (1)

The movement of volcanic ash is may be dangerous for UK transportation and due to many flights are canceled.

Chris Fryer

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris Fryer

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