Scotland Cancels Flights Because of Grimsvotn Ash Cloud; Is Europe Next?
We've already caught you up on the pronunciation, location, and identification of Iceland's erupting Grimsvotn volcano, so all that's left is to start ticking off the airport closures.
When the volcano started erupting on Rapture Day, experts at EuroControl, the European air safety organization, predicted literally zero impact on European airspace. Greenland had to cancel flights and Iceland's Keflavik airport was closed over the weekend, but the rest of Europe was supposed to escape a repeat of the Big Ash problems from last year's Eyjafjallajokull eruption.
Scientists pointed out that winds were blowing north rather than south, that the ash was large and coarse rather than fine and pointed (it matters for jet engines), and that the clouds were so heavy that the ash would fall to the ground. Gunnar Gudmundsson, of Iceland's Meteorological Office, insisted that the eruption would not "shut down airports abroad." Not so much, it turns out.
What everybody forgot to take into account - at the very least - is that UK airports are notoriously quick to shut down and stay shut down because of ash. That habit became a huge problem and a political scandal during last year's eruptions. So of course Scotland is functionally shutting down now, with regional airline Loganair canceling all flights following a Civil Aviation Authority.
The UK government is publicly committed to not repeating last year's mistakes. Officials are treading carefully. So far they've even avoided pissing off Ryanair's notoriously surly head Michael O'Leary, who declared himself "cautiously optimistic that they won't balls it up again this year." We'll see about that.
[Photo: AP via SMH]