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The volcanic ash cloud

Eddie Mair | 10:36 UK time, Tuesday, 20 April 2010

and the effort to get everyone home.

See more of that here.

iceland1.jpg

Is the official response about right? Should the government be doing more to help people stuck overseas? Or do you doubt whether it's any government's job to help get people home from holiday?

Pat Oddy writes:

"Please can you stop the endless flow of 'travel misery' stories? It's like being trapped with a pub bore. I'm sorry if these people are having a bad time, but in the great scheme of things there are far worse things going on. As for compensation, given that no travel insurance policy will pay out for 'act of God' why on earth should the British government - my guess is that most of the people whingeing about the government not doing anything will be precisely those who whinge about the 'nanny state'."


Comments

  • 1. At 11:12am on 20 Apr 2010, Joanna Cobley wrote:

    I think the response it about right - it is right that NATS have grounded planes (I can't believe that passengers are upset about this when it is their own safety at risk) and I think it is limited what the government can do other than what they are doing in terms of trying to make other forms of transport available. What do people expect - that the government produces a huge fan & blows the ash somewhere else?
    I only hope that this incident makes people re-evaluate air travel as it does hilight just how much unnecesary travel goes on.
    As aeroplanes are the biggest contributor to climate change then the planet has made a very powerful statement to try to get us to stop flying. If the Amazon is the 'lungs of the earth' then maybe Iceland is the 'strategic brain' and I'm all for the planet fighting back.

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  • 2. At 12:24pm on 20 Apr 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Is the official response about right?
    Yes, if it erred, it erred on the side of caution. This volcanic disruption was new and dangerous. It's not as though you could pull out a regulation book to p. 2003, p. 19 and find exactly what you're supposed to do.
    Should the government be doing more to help people stuck overseas?
    No. This is the business of travel insurance. Since when is the Government responsible for this type of thing?

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  • 3. At 12:33pm on 20 Apr 2010, DoctorDolots wrote:

    Too many people without the ability to think and act for themselves, as long as their pampered holiday goes according to plan they're fine, as soon as there's a problem they can't cope. They should stay safely at home where they won't be challenged. As for the UK government helping them [with our money] why should they? No one asked them to go abroad for Easter. I have no sympathy for any of them, they choose to fly for their own selfish reasons despite the fact it is damaging the atmosphere and threatening the future of everyone. Rich, spoiled, selfish and whining.

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  • 4. At 12:40pm on 20 Apr 2010, DoctorDolots wrote:

    1. While agreeing with your Earth friendly sentiments Joanna, I don't believe flying is the biggest single contributor; coal-fired power generation worldwide must contribute more CO2. However, the substantial effect flying has is still too much, and everyone needs to start thinking of long term consequences rather than their immediate selfish desires. Still the rich world's pampered kidults do the most damage, and if they won't stop they will have to be stopped.

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  • 5. At 12:43pm on 20 Apr 2010, BradyGray wrote:

    I think the government is just being nice to people which is good and I'm all for the government being good to people. Yes there are worse things going on in the world as for the crazy comments above about "our money"
    "selfish reasons" and all the nonsense about air travel being the biggest contributor to the fantasy of global warming and pollution err... what is the big thing that's spewing millions of tons of dusty pollution into the atmosphere at the moment... all the earth has to do is shrug and we're all dead... so I suggest people stop putting the fears of their own daily lives into manageable bundles such as global warming and other peoples misfortune at being stuck far away from home... the voice of reason has spoken and that is me.

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  • 6. At 1:07pm on 20 Apr 2010, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 7. At 1:35pm on 20 Apr 2010, gossipmistress wrote:

    I think the response has been right and I don't see why any passengers think they should automatically get compensation or a free lift home. No-one got compensation when their cars were stuck in snow drifts for days, people just coped. Obviously if there's a pressing medical reason, or similar emergency, it seems fair to offer help.

    Personally I'd like us to repeat the same thing next year and have a 'no planes' week - the silence has been great and I can hear the birds!

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  • 8. At 1:44pm on 20 Apr 2010, Looternite wrote:

    If the wind changes direction then all this "problem" becomes history and forgotten.

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  • 9. At 1:49pm on 20 Apr 2010, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    We seem to have maintained our ability to think whilst being stranded in Malaysia. We have managed to keep our 5 year old entertained each day whilst one of us copes with the frustrating queues at the airline office. The queues are not of people looking for information (we can get that from the TV or internet)they are to ensure that names don't drop off the list if and when flights do recommence. Telephone contact is completely unreliable, so we have become a small band of daily commuters to KL Sentral or KLIA to register our continued existence. I have heard no whingeing or clamours for compensation, just shocked resignation when it finally hits home that this could go on for weeks. Those who have the option to return south to Australia or New Zealand are beginning to give up and go home. A glimmer of hope this evening from Malaysia Airlines - flights my re-start to London tomorrow. But then we wait until the backlog is cleared - could we be on a plane by Sunday?
    Still - could be worse, I still have one credit card that works and has not yet had any fraudulent transactions. By the way, it was raining in Kuala Lumpur this morning....

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  • 10. At 1:58pm on 20 Apr 2010, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    UpTheTrossachs (9) - Couldn't you cycle at least part of the way home?
    :o)

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  • 11. At 2:19pm on 20 Apr 2010, Richard wrote:

    Whole situation seems to have been magnified by the blame culture. If I were in the position of making the decision, I would not want to commit to saying flying is safe. Imagine the rumpus if subsequently a plane blew up or crashed. Met Office, NATS etc would be hung out to dry by the same people who are now accusing them of over-reacting. In a choice between fly and stay on the ground, its no contest when the lawyers are waiting in the wings.

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  • 12. At 2:24pm on 20 Apr 2010, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    TiH (10) - if I was here on my own I think I would give it a go. We did have a brief discussion last night about how we could get back overland. China, Mongolia, Russia seemed to be the preferred route. Anyone else got any ideas? Kual Lumpur to UK overland?

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  • 13. At 2:28pm on 20 Apr 2010, Peter devenish wrote:

    Would someone please explain to me why so many aircraft are now overflying the UK whilst we still seem to be grounded? Just so you can see what is really happening out there check this out..
    http://www.radarvirtuel.com/

    How many of the planes you see over the UK are showing UK departure/arrival points?

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  • 14. At 2:39pm on 20 Apr 2010, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    UTT (12) - Well, you could try Thailand - Burma - Bangladesh - India - Pakistan - Iran - Iraq - Syria - Turkey - Greece - Bulgaria - Serbia - Croatia - Italy - France - and then just catch a ferry.
    Or catch a flight to Australia and start digging!

    I hope you are on your way home soon.

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  • 15. At 2:41pm on 20 Apr 2010, Mindclearly wrote:

    The reaction of the NATS seem appropriate as it is difficult to predict where the ask is going to be more concentrated in at 40,000 feet.

    The government I feel has a duty of care for its people but not at any price and by rushing in helping those stranded that could expose the service personel to the an oppertune attack by a terrorist. The modern world has a very good communication system and so issues being encountered by those stranded are reported much quicker than they used to be.

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  • 16. At 3:05pm on 20 Apr 2010, rollo wrote:

    Unfortunately the compensation culture now seems to be kicking in, with stranded passengers wanting the government to pay for their extra costs and, worse, airlines are now getting fidgety because the extended embargo is costing them money.
    Perhaps a better approach would have been for NATS and the Met Office just to supply the scientific knowledge they have and let the airlines decide for themselves whether it is safe to fly. At least that way the airlines could not whinge about the government over-reacting.

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  • 17. At 3:29pm on 20 Apr 2010, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    Let me put that another way.

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  • 18. At 3:45pm on 20 Apr 2010, RxKaren wrote:

    There's another thing that only struck me today. One of my technicians is stuck at a Turkish airport with her young family. She had planned to fly back last Thursday so that she could get herself sorted before school/work restarted. We've sorted out notifying the school at the UK end for her but she's also worrying about losing money/holiday through not being able to attend work.

    As her line manager I phoned HR for advice who told me, "Well I suppose ash is a bit like snow really isn't it?" They're not sure whether the approach is one of "sympathy but you need to pay the time back somehow" or "sympathy and understanding and we'll let you have the time out of this country off and not expect it to be paid back."

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  • 19. At 3:45pm on 20 Apr 2010, patmartin wrote:

    I haven't been able to fly anywhere for a while as my hospital consultant has warned me that my travel insurance would be in valid until I've had some surgery in June. Because of this I haven't looked at my travel insurance recently. Does it really still carry the words 'act of god'(can't remember who used the phrase earlier)I would have thought that phrase would have gone by now.

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  • 20. At 3:53pm on 20 Apr 2010, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    17.

    6,Imean.

    It strikes me that we have different aqttitudes to risk.

    I understand that entrepreneurs are risk takers.

    There will be some passengers who wouild want to fly some who wouldn't.

    But equally there will be some airline operators who see the risk of flying as worth taking.

    Willie Walsh went UP in a test plane to same the air a few days ago.

    That strikes me as hugely irresponsible. Sure that shouldbe done with weather balloons.


    What if the plane had crashed out of control into a large public building or onto a village?

    Entrpreneurial risk taking is defined in terms of attitudes to money. For a risk taker successive increments of money cause in them larger and larger increments of satisfaction.


    The problem here is that one cannot see how, prime facie, safety is a category towards which attitudes to risk are suspended. Risk prone individuals are so, in respect of dangers too - typically so.

    People living on and off the flight paths of Willie Walsh's adventure were not consulted but had risks taken with their homes and their lives.

    Risk takers are more ruthless in wage-profit negotiation as Unite found. Because every extra penny to then is tastier and taster as their share mounts.

    Shouldn't the programme be asking Willie Walsh about this before he and other riask lovers get their way and put the lives of others at risk.

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  • 21. At 3:56pm on 20 Apr 2010, RxKaren wrote:

    I thought the 4 standard exclusions were terrorism in Northern Ireland, damage due to sonic boom, damage due to ionising radiation and damage due to conflict (whether war has been declared or not). When I worked for an insurance company we seemed to pay out for acts of God - lightning, hurricane damage, flooding. The standard exclusions are things that the Government are expected to pick up the bill for.

    The thing that's getting me is the endless reporting from airports where there are no planes taking off. I think we'd probably got the message by Saturday. Do I really need to see the reporter/presenter dressed in a big coat standing outside an airport freezing their bits off telling me that there are no planes taking off? No, I don't! What was worse was the handover to a colleague in another airport in another part of the country where there are also no planes taking off but there might be soon. I realise that being unwell is making me less tolerant than usual but I did find myself shouting at the telly last night...

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  • 22. At 4:10pm on 20 Apr 2010, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    EtE - Of course, risk assessment has to be based on something - mathematical model or clear empirical evidence.

    I have a feeling that when all this is analysed in a few weeks time, we'll find that the grounding of aircraft was, for the most part, unneccessary. A good piece in yesterday's Telegraph.

    " Earlier a senior European Commission official said Europe should reduce its volcanic ash flight ban to “several dozen kilometres” around Iceland and rethink the Met Office science behind the current no fly restrictions, said a senior today.

    Matthias Ruete, the Commission’s director general of transport, criticised national air traffic authorities for relying on a single source of scientific evidence for the four day ban, which has created a major aviation crisis.

    “The science behind the model we are running at the moment is based on certain assumptions where we do not have clear scientific evidence,” he said.

    “We don’t even know what density the cloud should be in order to affect jet engines. We have a model that runs on mathematical projections.”

    “It is probability rather than actual things happening.”

    The Met Office’s London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) provided the volcanic ash warning last week, triggering the European ban, via Eurocontrol, the Brussels based air traffic control centre.

    Mr Ruete revealed that the Commission was forced yesterday to intervene with national authorities to “unblock the mess” and to allow airlines to fly test flights to check the VAAC data.

    “In a case where, we do not have the data it is a tremendous and terrible responsibility for the authorities to say, ‘oh well go on up’. That is why test flights are so important to have some kind of empirical evidence to help us move on from the mathematical model,” he said.

    He said that 40 test flights across Europe had found no evidence of ash in jet engines, windows or lubrication systems that could pick up the dangerous volcanic particles.

    “There was no trace of ash at all,” he said.

    The Commission will support an option restricting the flight ban to the immediate vicinity of Iceland at an emergency videoconference of EU transport ministers this afternoon.

    In the long term, Mr Ruete signalled that Europe should move to a United States style system for dealing with volcanic ash. He said that America was used to dealing with volcanoes and allowed airlines to decide whether to fly based on scientific evidence.

    Under the European system, national and European authorities are compelled to act on the VAAC’s advice, even if it is limited to mathematical modelling.

    “If you had the situation across the Atlantic, the advice would probably be ‘don’t fly over the volcano otherwise it’s up to you,” he said.

    “The US model is not less safe, you just have to look at the statistics.”

    Giovanni Bisignani, director-general, the International Air Transport Association, was equally scathing about the response to the ash cloud.

    "This is a European embarrassment and it's a European mess,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

    "This decision (to close airspace) has to be based on facts and supported by risk assessment. We need to replace this blanket approach with a practical approach."

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  • 23. At 4:16pm on 20 Apr 2010, DiY wrote:

    Science and models and risk assessment goes to the wall when all the engines on your A380 fail at 10,000 feet on the approach to Heathrow over Somerset and you plunge into the ground in Reading!

    As my ol' Gran used to say 'It is better to be safe than sorry'

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  • 24. At 4:23pm on 20 Apr 2010, Peter devenish wrote:

    How can such fundamental decisions be taken based solely on computer model without looking for any physical evidence?

    NATS, VAAC and the Met Office would appear to have a great deal to answer for when the public enquiry takes place - as surely it must

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  • 25. At 4:43pm on 20 Apr 2010, elcej wrote:

    I don't quite understand why the airlines haven't done more to get passengers home. Tesco has managed to keep their fruit, veg and flowers going by flying them to spain and then trucking them to the UK.

    Why haven't the airlines done this for their passengers (perhaps using coaches rather than trucks). Why have they left it to governments to sort it out? It was obvious even last thursday this would last a while just by looking at the weather predictions.

    Perhaps it's because the airlines haven't learnt how to look after their customers?

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  • 26. At 4:51pm on 20 Apr 2010, GiulioNapolitani wrote:

    So who were the 300 civilians recovered from Santander by HMS Albion. Listening to the stories of people being able to see the ship but not get near it and having nowhere to find out what was going on, it begins to sound like this was a very select group. And with two ships still going round in circles in the channel when they could have been in Santander by now, rather than a Churchillian moment, it all begins to look like a complete b*gger's muddle and a worse situation than if Gordo had sat on his hands and done nothing at all.

    It now looks to be the case that a completely false hope has been held out and, to coin a phrase much heard in Westminster, it appears that "they just don't get it". I hear officials on the radio saying there is no need for navy ships to bring people across the channel. Well, no there isn't and there never has been, because there is no lack of capacity there, IT IS GETTING OVERLAND FROM SPAIN AND SOUTHERN EUROPE TO THE CHANNEL PORTS which is proving nigh on impossible for thousands of people.

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  • 27. At 5:55pm on 20 Apr 2010, gary needham wrote:

    I really feel these Americanised brits who feel they deserve compensation for a natural disater need to get a grip. My wife was stranded in Italy, she is pregnant and only had limited supplies and money. I therefore went and got her! I booked a ticket on euro tunnel on Friday morning for friday afternoon got there 2 hours early and got onto the earlier train due to the lack of passengers!? This was the same coming back and I was back in bed by midnight on Saturday night.

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  • 28. At 6:16pm on 20 Apr 2010, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    TIH

    They don''t know this and they don't know that.

    So why did Willie Walsh take the risk or better the uncertainty of flying in and out of London Airport in a jet, doing something an unmanned weather balloon could do safely?

    Why risk the lives of people on and off the Heathrow flight paths?

    Why risk peoplers lives at West Middlesex Hospital there, and in the Old Peoples Homes surrounding it?

    It seems pure recklessness to me (merifully even with a ''w') The thoughtlessness of the merchant adventurer capitalist.

    I find it unconvincing to be told that 40 jet aircraft flew into areas where there was supposed to be dust. The uncertainty is deafening.
    That sort of love of risk looks like foolhardiness to me

    I am hugely uncertain about 'scentific' evidence from the commercially interested. I understood the lazar probes were showing dust up there. In which case why NONE on the windows etc of the jets?

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  • 29. At 6:19pm on 20 Apr 2010, VickyC wrote:

    I returned from Mallorca last night. It took three days over land via Barcelona, Perpignan, Lille and Calais. All fine but tiring. The only problem is misinformation. There is a bottle neck in Northern Spain because Spanish trains won't cross the border into France because of a French train strike. Furthermore Spanish train officials are telling travellers that there are no trains operating in France because of this strike. This could be why so many people are ending up in Santander. It isn't true. There are trains, just fewer. Our journey once we got into France was crowded but very fast. Calais was a model of efficiency and certainly didn't seem to need any RN ships. People need to know that they can get to French ports and advised how. There is no need to hire taxis for thousands of euros.It would have been helpful to find this out from the FCO and DirectGov websites.

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  • 30. At 6:23pm on 20 Apr 2010, Alison Oliphant wrote:

    I haven't flown for years - a deliberate policy to keep my carbon footprint to a minimum. I am now going to be punished because all those people who don't care about their carbon footprints want the government/taxpayer to pay for their return to Britain. If the airines weren't so heavily subsidised by having no tax to pay for aviation fuel, and not having to pay for their environmental damage, people would get used to paying a high price to go abroad. There are plenty of ways to travel - let all those spoilt and thoughtless airline users use some initiative, as well as their own money, and don't expect the taxpayer to pay them compensation via the airlines. As for using the navy to bring holidaymakers home - this is scandalous.

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  • 31. At 6:23pm on 20 Apr 2010, curieux wrote:

    I find it incredible that people still think it is some kind of 'right' to go aerial gobetrotting and then expect the government to bail them out when a natural phenomenon occurs to interrupt their travel plans. No assistance should be given in most cases. There are other means of travel. At some time people will realize that unrestricted air travel will choke us all.

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  • 32. At 6:32pm on 20 Apr 2010, Ellis P Otter wrote:

    What's the fuss all about?

    Nobody died.

    Just wait till a passenger plane goes down with a few hundred Brits because they thought it was okay.

    If you can't find your way home by yourself, you don't deserve to go out.

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  • 33. At 6:55pm on 20 Apr 2010, Alan_N wrote:

    Quite right EPO. I can think of worse things than being stranded in a holiday destination for a few days.

    The govt clearly should perhaps step in for special cases (such as the boys' football team featured on tonight's show) but for the rest of us, we're all grown ups, aren't we? A little personal responsibility perhaps?

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  • 34. At 7:22pm on 20 Apr 2010, Sid wrote:


    EtE - 'I am hugely uncertain about 'scentific' evidence ...' - does that mean you smell a rat?

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  • 35. At 7:58pm on 20 Apr 2010, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    35

    Yep.

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  • 36. At 8:11pm on 20 Apr 2010, GotToTheEnd wrote:

    Why isn,t the point that was raised on the AM GB, that laying on coaches annd stuff is what airlines are forever doing, and it was them who should be organising that stuff this time.


    Sounds to me that part of the Clegg effect is that we are back to private sector right, public sector wrong.

    Yeah. a few minor reforms of ther private sector needed but basically let's have orange book confidence in the world of private banking and entrepreneurship

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  • 37. At 9:04pm on 20 Apr 2010, Lydiameg wrote:

    The government can't even send out a press release correctly. The press release below has just come into my inbox. As you will notice it says the 20th March rather than the 20th April. Clearly a government who can't even write a press release correctly.

    Website update: Flight disruption: UK airports to reopen‏
    From: personalisation@e-media.fco.gov.uk
    Sent: 20 April 2010 19:51:49


    This email is to advise you that an article matching one of your interests has been published: Flight disruption: UK airports to reopen.

    The government has announced that there will be a phased reopening of UK airports from 2200 UK time this evening. All UK airports can reopen from 2000 UK time on Tuesday 20 March.

    Lord Adonis announced the reopening of UK airspace following consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority and a reassessment of the risk of aircraft from volcanic ash. He said, "It is essential that we guarantee to the travelling public that airlines are safe and that planes can safely fly."

    Airlines will be responsible for bringing flight schedules back on track. Passengers should check with their airline before going to their departure airport.


    [published at 2045]

    Please click on the link to view the article: here

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  • 38. At 10:19pm on 20 Apr 2010, Stewart_M wrote:


    Flying again

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  • 39. At 10:31pm on 20 Apr 2010, Sid wrote:


    Spot on, Mr Otter.

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  • 40. At 10:40pm on 20 Apr 2010, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    Ete (28) - I expect that you read my post but didn't bother to assimilate it. Try again.

    "Mr Ruete revealed that the Commission was forced yesterday to intervene with national authorities to “unblock the mess” and to allow airlines to fly test flights to check the VAAC data."

    Seems to me that the Commission was so unconvinced by the 'evidence' that they insisted on some real research.

    When you can advise Willie Walsh how to get an unmanned weather balloon to fly exactly where you want it, I'll listen to you. Until then I'll just... well.. smile.


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  • 41. At 02:59am on 21 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    As my ol' Gran used to say 'It is better to be safe than sorry'

    Well, but this is "nanny state" with a vengeance.

    Do you know what they call a political prospectus based on such values?

    A nannyfesto.

    (All rights reserved: I assert the right to be known as the originator of this crap joke.)

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  • 42. At 10:01am on 21 Apr 2010, Michael Donkin wrote:

    It seems to me, from listening to the news reports, that the airlines have successfully bullied the Government into allowing them to fly.

    Having been terrified of allowing any flights through British airspace for almost a week , we are now suddenly being told that it is safe to fly through "low levels" of volcanic ash.

    Has anyone thought about the cumulative effect on an aeroplane's engines of flying through such "safe" levels of ash several times? Will we find that engines fail in some weeks time? Have the airlines increased their maintenance of their aeroplanes, or are they now too cash strapped?

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  • 43. At 10:32am on 21 Apr 2010, Big Sister wrote:

    Lydiameg (37): If you received press releases regularly from the Government departments, you will know (as I do) that the inefficiency and inaccuracy is the responsibility of a member of the Civil Service, who are the servants of the Government and, like the rest of us, fallible. I know this as I used to work in such a Press Office ...

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  • 44. At 10:51am on 21 Apr 2010, mittfh wrote:

    Birmingham International claims it's fully open - yet according to RadarVirtuel, there aren't any planes in the air in the Midlands. Spooky!

    I caught a Thomsonfly plane taking off from Luton and heading East, which claimed it was heading from Manchester, Ringway to Liverpool, Speke.

    According to the transmitters on the planes flying over the UK at the moment, these eight airports are definitely open for business:

    Bristol
    Edinburgh
    Gatwick
    Heathrow
    Luton
    Newcastle
    Manchester
    Stansted

    -oOo-

    As for the confusion over the Madrid coaches, did the government actually say at any point that there were coaches already lined up in Madrid, or was that someone reading 'between the lines'? If so, who told them that there were coaches already in Madrid? After all, coach companies are private operators, so surely it would be up to management at the various companies to decide where their coaches went and when?

    As always in such circumstances, the media place huge pressure on the government to "do something". Err, like what? As I said in the last paragraph, coach operators are private companies, so can't be ordered to do specific jobs by politicians.

    Oh, of course, I forgot. It's election season, so the other parties feel they're duty bound to criticise the government.

    -oOo-

    As for compensation, I'm not surprised. There was a story the other day about a gardener who rested his ladder against the branch he was sawing off, with predictable consequences. But despite announcing he was embarrassed and ashamed, he wasn't embarrassed or ashamed enough to prevent him calling a personal injury lawyer. Result: the hotel fined £1,000 + £1,025 costs for failing to complete a risk assessment on the dangers of pruning trees beforehand, and the gardener planning to use this as a good excuse to sue them for compensation and lost earnings...

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  • 45. At 1:32pm on 21 Apr 2010, Michael Leek wrote:

    Under no circumstances should airlines be compensated by the taxpayer for the closure of UK airspace. According to ancedotes reported by the BBC some airlines have not behaved honourably towards their customers, whilst many insurance companies are refusing to pay out, so why should the taxpayer shoulder the burden of what is, afterall, an act of nature!

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  • 46. At 1:39pm on 21 Apr 2010, Michael Leek wrote:

    By the way, Pat Oddy, in his piece that opens this thread has hit-the-nail-on-the head!

    As I wrote elsewhere, the eruption and resulting closure of UK airspace is facinatingly interesting whilst the plight of holiday makers not so. There's far more genuine suffering elsewhere in the world that sometimes hardly gets a mention. At least these 'unfortunate' holiday makers can afford the luxury of international travel. Not an option for those in a Somali refugee camp... We really do need to put these situations into perspective.

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  • 47. At 2:26pm on 21 Apr 2010, Big Sister wrote:

    Michael Leek has been an hour in moderation - Is this a record?

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  • 48. At 5:35pm on 21 Apr 2010, KMC wrote:

    GOD, who is this character everyone says is responsible and acting in such a anti social way.

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  • 49. At 5:38pm on 21 Apr 2010, Joe Walker wrote:

    So exactly who is running the country now. The airlines led by Michael O'Leary and Willie Walsh or the elected government?

    In one stroke BA has wiped out the idea that safety is not negotiable. It may or may not be true that the rules dictating air safety with regard to volcanic ash may not be scientifically rigourous enough to suit the airline industry, but should it be that same industry through it's economic power that decides this?

    It is a terrible precedent when democratic structures (regardless of how imperfect they may seem) are swept aside by very powerful private interests.

    Not only do we have to watch the financial industry dictate our lives and futures, but now the airline industry is starting to stake an overt claim over the levers of power.

    Where has democracy gone?


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  • 50. At 6:12pm on 21 Apr 2010, Sid wrote:


    Big Sister @ 47 - a record for quick or for slow? It's certainly not the slowest, and I'd be surprised if it's the quickest. So, in brief, I'd be surprised if it's a record.

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  • 51. At 7:16pm on 21 Apr 2010, Really_Paul wrote:

    Should the engine manufacturers not have run controlled ash-intake tests to establish the safe volume and/or particle sizes years ago?

    This could have been done at leisure, so it seems to me!

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