Compensation Demanded By Angry Airline Officials

Very upset officials from airlines around the world are claiming compensation from European authorities for their over reaction to the recent threat of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud. The authorities triggered the world's largest closure of airspace since the three day ban in 9.11.2001.It is estimated that with up to 100 thousand flights cancelled, around half a million travelers were left stranded.

The cost to the airline industry is believed to be in the range of $1.75 - $2 billion. That is not including all the other businesses involving tourism, fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables and flowers, restaurants, taxis and buses etc. The flow-on effect will be felt for weeks to come.

"European Union transport ministers and air traffic agency Eurocontrol made decisions based on theoretical models and not on fact. Aviation authorities chose to categorize European airspace as being open or closed, but there should have been 'shades of grey' all along," said Steve Lott, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association.

The same authorities eventually created three categories of flyable air space, centered on danger levels from the ash cloud. They reduced the no-fly zone to areas close to the erupting volcano in Iceland, while deeming large pathways elsewhere safe to fly and a third category flight-worthy under certain restrictions. Airline pilots were instructed to apply visual conditions only to their flight path.

CAA and the airline industry has already created new engine tolerance criteria, so it is now hoped the old model will be urgently reviewed, in order to never again create a total ban.

In an already extremely costly exercise for stranded passengers, it was reported that some were being charged 1000 euros before they could get their hands on a boarding pass, let alone being able to get onboard an actual flight.

Following five days of being grounded, airlines began to resume partial flight schedules, permitting certain travelers to make their way home at last.

It will take several weeks to move the backlog, however, a new cloud from the volcano has threatened to prolong delays in Britain. The United Kingdom National Air Traffic Services agency said the situation had grown worse in some areas, although it still expects most airports to remain open.

Compensation will be sought from the European Union and various governments for the virtual shutdown of airspace for nearly six days, British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said.

With the European Union having 27 separate airspaces, there is wide-spread censorship over the emergency. "It took five days to organize a conference call with the ministers of transport," according to IATA director-general Giovanni Bisignani.

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