Sunday, April 18, 2010

Airlines Face Bankruptcy Amid Volcanic Ash Flight Bans

The world economy's getting some massive fallout from Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano. See Financial Times, "Airlines Warn of Bankruptcy and Call for End to Restrictions." And from LAT, "Airlines Carry Out Test Flights in Europe's Ash-Filled Skies":

Their losses deepening, European airlines on Sunday stepped up pressure to reopen the skies by carrying out passenger-free test flights despite the layer of volcanic ash that kept most planes across the continent grounded for a fourth day.

Airlines in Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and France sent jets close to or into the plume of ash and dust thrown up by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, in bids to demonstrate that flying conditions over Europe were safe. All the flights landed without incident, they said.

There was no indication, however, that aviation authorities would immediately ease restrictions on European airspace. Officials said new wind patterns could disperse some of the ash cloud and allow more regularly scheduled flights to operate Monday, but thousands of stranded passengers and affected businesses braced for the ban on air travel to extend into the new week.

British Airways canceled all service Monday into and out of London. Lufthansa also announced the cancellation of all of its flights worldwide Monday. The French government said airports in northern France, including Paris, would remain closed until at least Tuesday morning.

Except for a handful of flights allowed where a gap appeared in the cloud of ash, no-fly zones were in force in all or part of more than 20 countries on the continent Sunday, the Europe-wide aviation agency Eurocontrol reported. The list included southern nations such as Italy that had hitherto escaped restrictions but are now being hit as the high-altitude grit drifts farther south and east.