The European Union speeded up a sweeping reform of its air control management system today, responding to the crisis that turned much of the continent into a no-fly zone after a volcanic eruption in Iceland. "The worst is now over, but there is a huge amount of work to be done to deal with crisis management," said EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas. Europe's airspace today was almost completely free of any remnants of the volcanic ash cloud that caused massive disruptions during the past week. Eurocontrol, the air traffic agency, said the ash cloud was restricted to an area between Iceland and the northwestern tip of Scotland, where the small airports at Kirkwall, Wick, Inverness and Stornoway were closed. But for the first time since the April 14 eruption, Iceland's major international airport was closed after shifting winds blew the ash cloud toward the capital of Rey k j av i k , we s t o f the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Trans- Atlantic flights on Icelandair that usually stop in Iceland were being rerouted through Glasgow in Scotland. Flights across the rest of Europe were expected to proceed normally, said Eurocontrol spokeswoman Kyla Evans. About 29,000 flights were scheduled. Planes flying between the United States and Europe were given flight paths far above the previous area of the ash cloud, flying at over 30,000 feet. Britain's Royal Air Force said it hoped to resume training flights on Typhoon military fighter jets today after grounding them for inspection Thursday when ash was found in an engine. A week of airspace closures caused by the ash threat to planes created the worst breakdown in civil aviation in Europe since World War II. More than 100,000 flights were canceled and airlines are on track to lose over $2 billion. Speaking to reporters, Kallas said this made it necessary to speed up implementation of the "Single European Sky" project, reforms to streamline the way air traffic management has been conducted in Europe since World War II.
Ash crisis accelerates work on seamless EU sky
Published: Friday, April 23rd, 2010
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