Entries in Iceland (10)

Tuesday
Jun212011

Air Berlin starts Hamburg-Keflavík non-stop route

The German semi-low-cost airline Air Berlin has commenced twice-weekly non-stop service between the Hanseatic city on the River Elbe, Hamburg, and the Icelandic town whose name means "driftwood bay" in the local language.  The route between Hamburg's Fuhlsbüttel Airport (IATA: HAM; ICAO: EDDH) and Keflavík International Airport (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF), on a southwestern promontory of the volcanic island nation in the north Atlantic, will operate two times a week, on Sunday and Thursday.  The flights are about 3 hours 20 minutes each, in both directions.  The route will be flown with the Airbus A319.

Keflavík International was built in 1942 by the American military, which called it the United States Naval Air Station Keflavík, or NASKEF.  Keflavík International is the only year-round  international gateway (by air) in Iceland.  It is about 31 miles (50 kilometers) west of Reykjavík, the capital.  A plain near the Icelandic national capital was the site of the A.D. 930 establishment of the world's oldest continuously functioning parliamentary body.  This is now an Icelandic national park, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

[There is no source because this exotic bit of news was hardly reported at all in the Anglophone press.  A bracketed date notation on the English language Wikipedia article for Keflavík International Airport, under Airlines and Destinations, tipped off the webmaster of this site, who decided to report on it.  All articles which inspired this in one way or another were translated from German or Icelandic using Google Translate.

Searches for the route on Air Berlin's website, and on www.kayak.com/flights, are successful, for Sunday and/or Thursday flights.]

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Wednesday
Jun012011

Delta inaugurates New York-Iceland non-stop route

Delta Air Lines, the world's largest airline by passengers carried, is now the first United States-based carrier in 40 years to operate regular service between the New York metro area and Iceland non-stop.  Late this evening, at 11:35 EDT, the inaugural flight for this new route is scheduled to depart from Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK) in the New York borough of Queens.  The flight will be operated with the Boeing 757-200, according to Delta's press release on the subject, and is scheduled to arrive at Keflavík International Airport (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF), at 9:20 in the morning the next day, local time.  The return flight is scheduled to leave Keflavík daily at 10:50 in the morning, local time, and arrive back in New York at 12:55 in the afternoon, local time.

Keflavík International is 31 miles (50 kilometers) west of the Icelandic capital city, Reykjavík.

Delta's senior vice president for New York, Gail Grimmett, mentioned the airline's emphasis on incorporating "unique destinations" and "growing but underserved global markets" into its list of destinations, suggesting that this new route targets both business travelers and leisure travelers.  Grimmett pointed out that Delta is now the only airline in the SkyTeam Alliance to offer a New York-Iceland route.

Delta Air Lines pilot John Magnusson made a blog post on Delta's official website earlier today, about his thoughts and feelings on being the pilot to fly the inaugural round trip.

The airline that became Delta Air Lines began flying passengers in 1929.  Delta relocated to Atlanta in 1941, and operates its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta (IATA: ATL; ICAO: KATL).  It became the world’s largest airline by passengers carried when its merger with Northwest Airlines was completed last year.  Two other airlines fly non-stop between the New York metro area and Iceland.  Iceland's flag carrier airline Icelandair flies the route from Kennedy International and back, and the budget airline Iceland Express flies the route from Liberty International Airport (IATA: EWR; ICAO: KEWR) in Newark, New Jersey and back.

original stories

Delta Air Lines to Connect New York, Iceland (Delta Air Lines)

Captain's View: JFK Inaugural Flight to Iceland (Delta Air Lines)

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Thursday
May262011

Iceland's Grímsvötn erupts; only 500 flights cancelled

The Icelandic volcano Grímsvötn began spewing ash and smoke into the air last Saturday, but will not cause near the disruption to trans-Atlantic air traffic that the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull did last spring.  Two large Irish airlines, Aer Lingus and Ryanair, have had to cancel dozens of flights over volcanic ash-related concerns, according to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).  And the total number of flights cancelled across Europe due to the eruption is around 500.

But Iceland itself expects no major disruption to its travel industry as a result.  The country's Director General of Tourism, Olof Yr Atladottir, said that hotel bookings, tour bookings, and other tourist services are not decreasing.  The site www.icenews.is reported that this summer is still expected to be "one of [Iceland's] biggest travel summers to date."  Though there are small amounts of ash lingering over northern Scandinavia and Russia, the (nearly) pan-European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol also expects very little, if any, additional disruption to air traffic over Europe because of the eruption.

original stories

Ireland steers clear of volcano woes as 500 flights in Europe are grounded (Irish Central)

'Little harm done' to Iceland tourism sector (IceNews)

Eurocontrol: No major impact on air traffic anticipated in next 24 hours (Washington Post)

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Sunday
Sep052010

Four 787 jets being tested in extreme conditions by Boeing

The Boeing Company is testing five 787 Dreamliner model aircraft under various conditions, four of them rather extreme.  The five test airplanes are labeled by Boeing ZA001, ZA002, ZA003, ZA004, and ZA005.

ZA001 is being tested at the Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico (IATA: ROW; ICAO: KROW) for brake performance following simulated “rejected takeoffs.”  This will be the second visit of ZA001 to Roswell, where it underwent wet-runway testing last month.  ZA002 is undergoing cold-weather and high-latitude testing at Keflavik International Airport in Iceland (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF).  ZA003 is being tested for durability in extreme heat, in Yuma, Arizona.  ZA004 is in Victorville, California doing “flight loads survey testing.”  This type of test “measures external pressure distributions throughout the flight envelope.”  And finally, ZA005 has undergone natural and artificial “ice shape testing,” to determine how well the aircraft performs in the presence of ice.

These tests are required for type certification.  In May, United States-based Continental Airlines became the first airline in the world to assign the Dreamliner to a route, when it announced that it would fly non-stop from its Houston, Texas hub (IATA: IAH; ICAO: KIAH) to Auckland, New Zealand (IATA: AKL; ICAO: NZAA).  Japan-based All Nippon Airways is scheduled to be the first customer of Boeing to receive a shipment of 787 Dreamliner aircraft.  All Nippon has 55 Dreamliners on order, one of which suffered an engine test failure in the United Kingdom last month.

Although the initial deliveries of the 787 by Boeing to its customers were scheduled to take place sometime during the final quarter of this year, those deliveries may be pushed back to 2011.

The Boeing Company is an American-based aircraft manufacturer founded in Seattle, Washington in 1916 as Pacific Aero Products.  It was renamed for its founder William Boeing three years later.  Boeing relocated its corporate offices from Seattle to Chicago, Illinois in 2001.

related stories

Engine of 787 meant for All Nippon Airways fails test (August 23, 2010)

787 Dreamliner to visit Farnborough International Air Show (July 18, 2010)

Boeing has released the probable configuration of a stretch 787 (July 1, 2010)

787 stabilizer problems will not change timetable, Boeing says (June 27, 2010)

Dreamliner struck by lightning during test last month (June 20, 2010)

original stories

Boeing goes to extremes to test its new 787 jet (HeraldNet)

Boeing Conducts Remote 787 Testing (WKRN Nashville Online)

Wednesday
Jun302010

Aeroflot flight diverts and kicks drunks off plane

An Aeroflot Russian Airlines cabin crew ran out of patience with two intoxicated air travelers last Saturday, on a flight from Russia to Cuba.  Over the North Atlantic, the two got unruly to the point that the captain of the Airbus A330-200 decided to divert to Keflavik International Airport in Iceland (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF) and turn the offenders over the Icelandic police.

The flight had taken off from Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow (IATA: SVO; ICAO: UUEE), and landed at Jose Martí International Airport near Havana, Cuba (IATA: HAV; ICAO: MUHA) two and half hours late.

original stories

Aeroflot Punishes On-board Troublemakers (Aeroflot Russian Airlines)

Tuesday
Jun082010

IATA Chief Executive slams unions for striking

The Chief Executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Giovanni Bisignani called recent union-led walkouts at major airlines “nonsense,” and demanded that they “stop picketing and cooperate,” at the IATA’s annual meeting yesterday, in Berlin.  Aggregately, airlines will enjoy a 2.5 billion dollar (USD) profit this year (2.1 billion EUR; 1.7 billion GBP), a marked improvement over the IATA's March forecast.

However, this latest forecast includes European-based carriers, which, aggregately, are expected to lose 2.8 billion USD (2.3 billion EUR; 1.9 billion GBP) due to the severe interruption in operations caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, in south-central Iceland, over this past April and May.  For the year, the German airline Lufthansa had already lost 59.7 million USD (49.9 million EUR; 41.4 million GBP) due to a pilots’ walkout in February, which Lufthansa received a German court order to stop.

The United Kingdom’s British Airways has lost 173.2 million USD (145 million EUR; 120 million GBP) over the course of the several cabin crew union strikes against it which have occurred in the last few months.  Despite this, British Airways’ CEO Willie Walsh called it “business as usual” at the U.K.’s highest-profile airline.  Mr. Walsh has been criticized by the leaders of Unite the Union, which represents British Airways’ cabin crew employees, for going to Berlin for the IATA meeting instead of staying in London to negotiate.

The IATA was founded in 1945, and has been headquartered in Montreal, Québec, Canada since 1977.  As of this post, it represents 230 airlines, on all six inhabited continents.  The legal and business entity now called Lufthansa was founded in 1954.  Lufthansa is based in Cologne, Germany, and is the German flag carrier.  It is the largest airline headquartered in Europe, by number of passengers carried.  British Airways is based in the borough of Hillingdon in London and uses nearby Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR; ICAO: EGLL) as its hub.  It was formed in 1974, with the merger of the British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European AirwaysUnite the Union is a British and Irish trade union formed in 2007 with the merger of Amicus the Union and the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

related stories

British Airways will expand its immediate-term flight schedule (June 4, 2010)

British Airways will expand its immediate-term flight schedule (May 26, 2010)

Unite the Union begins strike series against British Airways (May 24, 2010)

In Europe, ground transportation bookings are up significantly (May 21, 2010)

The Unite strikes against British Airways are back on (May 21, 2010)

Unite is barred from going forward with BA strike action (May 18, 2010)

British Airways has released its contingency plan for the first strike (May 15, 2010)

British Airways and cabin crew union are trying to avert strikes (May 12, 2010)

original story (Reuters)

Monday
May172010

Volcanoes in Iceland could affect aviation for decades

An era of more frequent and more severe volcanic activity could be around the corner.  The London Times reported in its Sunday edition yesterday that the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in south-central Iceland could be just the beginning of a surge in volcanism that has the potential to cause much larger aviation-related problems in the years to come.  At worst, the volcano called the Icelandic word for “island-mountains glacier” could yet continue like this for months.  And it could perhaps be followed by an even larger volcano to its east, with a reputation for acting out right in the wake of eruptions by its neighbors, according to a volcanologist at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition, rumors that this larger volcano called Katla, might soon erupt, were circulating in the days before Eyjafjallajökull blew its stack.  The ice inside Katla is a third of a mile thick, and it would all melt in the event of an eruption.  In total, volcanologists are looking at four other Icelandic volcanoes, all four larger than Eyjafjallajökull, which could soon cause havoc not only for European air travel, but also for life on Iceland itself.  Melting snow on the summit of one volcano, called Hekla, suggests it might be close to erupting.  Indeed, melting snow and ice associated with rising magma in Iceland has in the past washed away parts of the highway Icelanders call the "Ring Road," around much of the island's outer edge.

The cyclical nature of volcanic eruption over very long periods of time is not generally accepted.  Volcanic eruption could also be random, said a geophysicist at the University of Durham.  But the consequences for air travelers will likely be the same either way.  Repeated volcanic activity of this magnitude or larger will almost certainly cause at least a temporary shift in how they think about travel over long distances.

related stories

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 (London Times)

Sunday
May162010

Heathrow and Gatwick closed as of 1:00 A.M. local time Monday

The busiest and second-busiest airports in the United Kingdom are both closed for the night.  The closures are due to renewed concern about the levels of ash in the air, from the continued eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano in south-central Iceland whose eruption brought all commercial air traffic in Europe to a standstill for several days last month.  These closures will follow a day of frustration for many air travelers in North West England, where Manchester and Liverpool each closed its own major airport today.  The ash cloud is estimated to move south and settle in over Greater London during Monday and Tuesday.  It is estimated the ash cloud will have moved on through London by Wednesday.

The United Kingdom’s two busiest airports, Heathrow (IATA: LHR; ICAO: EGLL), and Gatwick (IATA: LGW; ICAO: EGKK) are scheduled to be closed from 1:00 Monday morning to 7:00 Monday morning local time (8:00 Sunday evening to 2:00 Monday morning, EDT).  Officials at both airports advise travelers who are scheduled to fly during the night to contact their airline for further information.

London City Airport (IATA: LCY; ICAO: EGLC) the one nearest to the center of The Metropolis, reports that London airspace is entirely closed from midnight to 6:00 Monday morning, local time.  Suburban Luton Airport (IATA: LTN; ICAO: EGGW) does not give any indication that it intends to close at this time.

Suburban Stansted Airport (IATA: STN; ICAO: EGSS) also does not yet plan to close.  But all advise air travelers to keep close contact with the operating airlines of their flights for updates.

related story

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

original story (www.breakingtravelnews.com)

original story (CNN)

original story (BBC)

update from the BBC (BBC)

Friday
May072010

Keflavík and others might close temporarily tomorrow

Keflavík International Airport, the largest airport in Iceland and a hub of Icelandair, could close temporarily tomorrow morning.  Keflavík International (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF) and other European airports are considering the move because of the rise above acceptable levels, of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano located in the south central part of the island.  Eyjafjallajökull simmered for a month at the beginning of spring before boiling over last month and paralyzing commercial aviation in Europe for several days.  Keflavík itself is located on the southwest coast of Iceland.

During the expected closure tomorrow morning, Icelandair passengers originating on mainland Europe, whose destination is the Americas, will be routed through Glasgow International Airport instead (IATA: GLA; ICAO: EGPF).  Upon arrival in Boston, New York, or Seattle, they will then be routed to their final destination.  Passengers originating in Iceland whose flight is scheduled to leave Keflavík during the closure, will have the option to take a bus to a smaller airport near the town of Akureyri in north-central Iceland, and connect to Glasgow International from there.  Passengers scheduled to arrive in Iceland during the closure will be routed through Glasgow to Akureyri, where a bus will take them to Keflavík.  The bus ride is four hours long.

A number of Icelandair flights both departing from and arriving at Keflavík International, from and to both Europe and North America, have already been cancelled and replaced with flights through Glasgow International in anticipation of the closure.  Icelandair is offering refunds to affected passengers.  It is also offering the opportunity to rebook within two weeks, and travel within a month, for no extra charge.

Keflavík is the only international airport in Iceland.  Iceland should be proud of the international reputation it has gained as a gracious host of stranded travelers throughout this emergency.  Icelandair has not yet posted to its website losses or projected losses due to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

Comments are welcome, as always.

 

related story

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

original story (Icelandair)

Tuesday
May042010

The spread of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull over time

The BBC online posted a fascinating series of graphics showing the geographical and geological extent of the chaos wrought in mid to late April 2010, by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano called Eyjafjallajökull.  This eruption, which actually began in late March, notoriously shut down air travel all over Europe and trans-Atlantic flights, stranding air travelers for days on both sides of the pond.

Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull caused rare electrical storms (lightning caused solely by volcanic ash and without accompanying rainfall), one stunning photograph of which was posted by the BBC.  According to drawings by experts, the ash settled at about 20,000-30,000 feet above sea level, much lower than the cruise altitudes of many commercial airliners.  But the effect on an aircraft of having flown through the ash cloud at all were deemed too great to allow flight through those altitudes, even though the ash may have been diluted sufficiently at the intended cruise altitude of most commercial flights (35,000-41,000 feet).  The presence of volcanic ash has a severely detrimental effect on the cooling system of an airplane, among many other negative consequences.  Satellite photographs of the region affected, and graphs showing how many flights over European airspace were cancelled due to the eruption are also included in the slideshow.

The International Air Transport Association has estimated that the eruption of Ejyafjallajökull has cost the airline industry roughly 1.29 billion Euros (1.7 billion USD, 1.12 billion GBP).  The chief of the IATA called on the governments of European countries where airlines have been affected, to assist the airlines financially.  Almost 100% of the regularly-scheduled air traffic in Europe is expected to fly on Thursday.

graphical presentation posted by the BBC online

original story (BBC)