EU Holding Emergency Meeting on Flight Bans

'We can't wait for the cloud to vanish,' says official
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2010 1:42 AM CDT
EU Holding Emergency Meeting on Flight Bans
A British Airways employee talks to frustrated passengers at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago yesterday.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

EU leaders are meeting in an emergency session today to discuss continued flight bans in the wake of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. They're meeting by video teleconference because leaders can't fly anywhere. "We cannot just wait until this ash cloud dissipates," said EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas. Increasingly angry airline officials are demanding flight bans be lifted, accusing governments of crisis mismanagement. The International Airline Association blasted the lack of "risk assessment, consultation, management and leadership," AP reports.

The decision to close the airspace "was made exclusively as a result of data from a computer simulation in London," an Air Berlin spokesman complained to the Wall Street Journal. Several test flights over the weekend have revealed that engines suffered no harmful effects from the ash. Airport shutdowns have affected some 6.8 million travelers and are costing airlines $200 million a day in lost revenue, reports the BBC. Airspace is closed or partially closed in 20 countries.
(More Iceland volcano stories.)

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