Ash cloud could disrupt travel in Britain, Germany
LONDON — Volcanic ash from Iceland could disrupt air travel in Britain and Germany the next few days, officials said yesterday.
The British Department of Transport said there was a risk that parts of British airspace could be closed beginning today and that problems could continue through Tuesday. The predictions are based on the continuing eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano and wind and weather conditions.
Parts of British airspace — including England’s southeast, home to Europe’s busiest airport at Heathrow as well as Gatwick, Stansted, and other top airports — could close at times during the next few days.
In Germany, air traffic control spokesman Axel Raab said that air travel could face disruptions starting tomorrow but cautioned that indicators were still “very, very vague.’’
Germany will send up a test flight today to measure ash concentration, German Aerospace Center spokesman Andreas Schuetz said — a measure welcomed by
Any decision on German air space closures will be made after examining weather forecasts at an emergency meeting with meteorologists, Raab said.
In Iceland, civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said the intensity of the eruption had not changed but wind conditions had.
“The winds in the vicinity of the volcano are not quite as forceful as they have been, so the ash plume is higher closer to the volcano,’’ he said. “The weather patterns are the predominant factor in deciding where the ash goes.’’
The Met Office, Britain’s weather forecaster, said yesterday that the wind is expected to change direction Tuesday, which would reduce the risk of travel disruptions.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said five-day forecasts are now being published to give airlines and travelers the best information. However, he said the situation “remains fluid and these forecasts are always liable to change.’’
British airport operator BAA said on its website yesterday that its facilities are open, but the ash cloud “continues to cause occasional problems.’’ It said it would have a clearer idea of how the ash could affect southern England over the next 24 hours.
Airlines, including Lufthansa and
The controversy over how to handle the flight disruptions led to the resignation of a top Lufthansa executive, news weekly Der Spiegel reported yesterday.
Stefanie Stotz, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa, confirmed that chief security pilot Juergen Steinberg is leaving “by mutual agreement’’ on Aug. 1. He had criticized leadership for operating flights under visual flight rules while German airspace was still officially closed.