EUROCONTROL puts the number of flights canceled today as a result of the ash clouds from erupting Grimsvötn volcano at approximately 500 out of 29,000 scheduled throughout Europe. Thousands of passengers were reported to be stranded in Scotland’s Glasgow Prestwick and Edinburgh’s airports following a Irish Aviation Authority decision to curtail flights there. Inverness and Aberdeen airports had also been affected. While Greenland and Denmark saw some airspace closings, Norway and Sweden appeared not to have been affected. Predictive models maps issue by the Met Office (United Kingdom’s national weather service) show the anticipated travel path of the ash clouds for tomorrow, May 25th 2011. The areas of high and medium concentration is expected to penetrate continental Europe traveling southeast towards Hamburg at about 6:00 am UTC (2:00 am EDT).
Accordingly Ryanair is expecting traffic to the German airports of Bremen, Lubeck and Magdeburg to undergo some disruptions tomorrow.The low cost carrier had emitted very strong criticisms regarding the closing of UK and Scotland airspace by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the Irish Aviation Authority. Ryanair holds the view that the airspace closings are unnecessary as aircraft and engine manufacturers have certified to the safe operation of aircraft even through areas of high ash contamination. The debate, according to Ryanair has evolved from UK Civil Aviation Authority assertion that the Met Office’s maps were incorrectly excluding Glasgow Prestwick and Edinburgh from the areas of high concentration. Ryanair did conduct a one-hour verification flight today at up to 41,000 feet from Glasgow Prestwick, Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh apparently confirming its views.
Regarding the May 25th forecast, the pattern of high contamination is likely to briefly affect the Netherlands and areas south of Denmark, while transitioning through Germany towards Poland. However the area of low concentration is likely to propagate as far south as Belgium and the north of France. At that time, only the northern portion of Scotland would be covered by a narrower band of medium level contamination ash clouds. The effects of the eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano which erupted may 21st 2011 from its location in central Iceland have only affected airspace below 20,000ft although at several orders of magnitude below last year’s Eyjafjallajökull eruption which caused $1 billion in losses for the industry with 100,000 flights and 8 million passengers affected.