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Are you flying?

11:48 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

Travel chaos is continuing to affect air passengers in the UK and Europe, despite the re-opening of airspace. Are you happy to fly?

All UK airports were given the go ahead to reopen from 2200 BST on Tuesday, but airspace in Germany and Ireland remains restricted. More than 95,000 flights were cancelled across Europe in the last week and it may take weeks to get passengers home.

Airports and airlines have questioned the need for restrictions said to be costing $200m (£130m) a day. But scientists say that while Eyjafjallajokull volcano is now producing more lava and less ash, the situation remains changeable.

What do you think of the response to the crisis by the government and the airline industry? Are you stranded because of the airspace restrictions? Are you getting a flight back home? Do you work in the travel industry?

<strong>This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.</strong>

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  • Comment number 1.

    For all the fuss being made by the airlines, I wouldn't fancy the fallout if even one plane fell out of the sky, clogged with ash. One out of thousands would do more damage to their reputation than all being grounded.

    From what I've heard on the news, the insurance companies are busy hiding behind the 'act of god' excuse for abandoning their clients. This is more telling than anything else, and makes you wonder why anyone ever bothers paying the insurance? Come on people, this is the moment when the stranded masses actually need you to step up, put your hands in your pockets and HELP them!

  • Comment number 2.

    Would I fly, god no. As someone with a bit of knowledge about aircraft it can be seen that the ash cloud does pose quite a large threat to safe flight, and as such, I wouldn't be willing to take the risk.

    The air companies are just worried about the money the crisis is costing them, and since they can't exactly blame the volcano for it (well they could, but its not going to care), they have to find someone to blame to appease their shareholders that they are doing something about the situation.

    I can understand where they are coming from, as if this keeps up much longer, they will suffer badly, with some possibly going bust. But on the other hand, is risking both passenger and those on the grounds safety a valid trade off just to ensure that some companies don't go bust. I would say no.

  • Comment number 3.

    No I wouldn't fly, not unless I was convinced it was safe.

    Insurance companies should not be allowed to use 'act of God' as an excuse not to pay. Thye make millions and millions of pounds worth of profit every year and the whole reason for insurance is to cover you for when the unexpected happens.

  • Comment number 4.

    Stop whingeing. Safety has to be the top priority. If planes re-started too early and one crashed as a result the responsibility would solely be on the shoulders of money-obsessed moaners. Perhaps this is nature's way of telling us all to slow down a little.

  • Comment number 5.

    If the inevitable happened and a plane did succumb to the ash, will the airline admit to being responsible?
    All they think about is "Profits Before Safety"!

  • Comment number 6.

    I think that flights should only be allowed to fly if they can say without doubt that the air space is safe for travel. The safety of the the passengers and people on the ground is more important. Yes it is very frustrating and costing a lot of money but natural events cannot be helped. Maybe they should look into whether it is possible to open up some routes. But if it not safe, as there has not been much wind to disperse the ash cloud then I do not think that they should fly. If the ash causes many aircrafts engines to shut down you have the risk of the planes crashing and that would also affect the people on the ground.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Would you fly?" you ask.
    Well, for a start - and ignoring the fact that unfortunately I don't have wings - I'd rather sail. And if I was one of these stranded Britons, what would my chances be of that? Not a lot, I fear, since Brown has decided to send a palty three Royal Navy ships to the rescue. THREE ships? My, oh my! Is that the best he can do? Does he have no knowledge of the Evacuation of Dunkirk? One can only deduce from this that Brown has decided that the vast majority of these poor unfortunate people are not supporters of the Labour Party, bearing in mind the forthcoming General Election. Hopefully, this part of his Plan will be in vain. More ships required, please!

  • Comment number 8.

    In relation to package holidays, I think that the companies will have to refund, regardless of the reason. If they cannot get you to your destination they have to give you your money back if you do not want to change the date. The same with airlines, if they cannot take you to your destination and you do not agree to change the date that you want to fly they will have to refund people. The airlines will not be responsible for paying for any holidays that you booked separately though.

  • Comment number 9.

    I was flying yesterday in a light aircraft - but there were plenty of private pilots commuting around Europe quite happily. I looked at the advice from the CAA, looked out of the window and went flying.

    The current issue is, in my view, mainly driven by the legal bods in NATS - terrified of the repercussions should an aircraft even have to divert - let alone fall out of the sky.

    We know roughly where the ash cloud is - we can even put up more aircraft to monitor it; so I see no reason why the larger commercial aircraft can fly at a lower level, out of the main ash cloud, until clear of it when they can climb to more efficient altitudes.

  • Comment number 10.

    The IATA is right. About time that governments stopped being so spineless and started to put airline profit before passenger safety.

  • Comment number 11.

    Welcome to Vienna,Austria.
    Flight operations resumed at 5.00 am on Monday, 19 April 2010

    At Vienna International Airport, according to Austrocontrol, flight operations resumed at 5.00 am on Monday, 19 April 2010. Please note that this situation is under constant monitoring and evaluation.
    Passengers are asked to contact their airline and verify the status of their flight. Also please check the relevant information on your airline’s website. The latest flight information is provided on the airlines’ websites and over the following links.

    Updates on arrivals at Vienna International Airport

    Updates on departures at Vienna International Airport

    Vienna International Airport and CAT invite all passengers to use the City Airport Train on the 19th of april 2010 free of charge.
    Already paid CAT-tickets can be reused till 16th of may 2010.

    Details of the increased national train traffic on the website

  • Comment number 12.

    Would I fly? Hell no. Better safe than sorry.

  • Comment number 13.

    While this is hideous for those stuck abroad and I hope conditions allow people to get home asap - with whatever assistance is needed, I'd like to note how the private sector is acting in it's typical mannor:
    - Asking for restrictions to be lifted - for commercial reasons
    - Asking for a bail out (why - surely bankrupt business can be bought out and continue flying?)
    - not having reserves and contingency plans in place
    - Profiteering from hotels, car rental and Ferries
    - Insurance rip offs - no more needed their

    Good to see the Royal Navy (not privately funded) stepping up to help.

  • Comment number 14.

    Was due to fly tomorrow (on business) but have rescheduled things. Even if flights are going, I don't want to be one of the first up in the sky.

    Whilst I sympathise with the airlines for all the lost revenue, I wouldn't describe the situation as a "crisis". Yes, a number of people are stranded, but presumably they're somewhere they wanted to go to in the first place?

    Maybe this situation will question people's apparent need to fly in the first place?

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    It is all very well to criticise the air lines for playing it safe. How much more would they be panned if they ignored passenger safety and people lost their lives.

    They must be losing out big time during this period of inactivity.

    I have acquaintancies stranded in Europe and Egypt and although they are disgruntled to say the lease they appreciate that this is being done in their interest.

    What I do take exception to is the French announcing that the Ferries would lose out if those stranded were to use other methods of transport to get home. These folk were never Ferry or Channel Tunnel passengers in the first place. Also, how on earth can they justify the huge increase in fares and make a killing off the back of stranded people.

  • Comment number 17.

    It didn't need the latest report about the F16s suffering engine damage to persuade me no flying.

    I think the government response has been pathetic. Only now is it trying to cobble together a plan with save-the-world Brown not quite knowing what to do. He'll probably blame the banks or the Tories.

    What disgusts me most is the burbling about airlines wanting a taxpayer bailout. Let's hope the government gives a resounding NO!

    The airlines already get enough government support with tax-free fuel.

  • Comment number 18.

    For BA to start squealing that they need compensation is a bit rich considering that they were in a mess before this crisis erupted. If anyone should compensate them then it should be the trade unions and their striking BA staff. Let market forces prevail I say and if some airlines go bust then let them go and their striking staff with them.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think there are enough hazards in the sky without knowingly risking another. I think there needs to be 100% certainty as I would not like to be part of an "acceptable risk" plummeting to earth.
    In addition there is always a risk of volcanoes, a small but real risk, neither the airlines or aviation organisations have devised contingencies for these risks and should therefore bear the cost associated. Unfortunately though, if were prepared to use tax payers money to bail out cowboy speculators in the banking sector for criminal negligence then the airlines will have a strong case for an act of nature...

  • Comment number 20.

    I remember when hundreds of British tourists were stranded for days in airports in Thailand due to political demonstrations. German and Australian governments got their citizens out within 48 hours. The British government did NOTHING...they didn't even send embassy staff down to the airport to explain what is going on. And this is when these British citizens' lives were at risk, as the demonstrations threatened to become violent.

    And now today, where there is no danger to life, this latest reaction using warships is insulting to the Thailand tourists who were denied help. Just because there is an election coming's pathetic!

  • Comment number 21.

    I will not fly until we are 100% safe.
    Yes, airlines were losing money, people were stranded abraod. But what else is more important than human lives? Afterall, we just want to be safe and go home to our love ones.

    Down here, human is making decisions, up there, your fate is in God's hand. And I hope human is making good and wise decisions before calling for God's help.

    May God bless us.

  • Comment number 22.

    As Briton stranded in Florida with two teenagers, we are concerned about the safety of the aircraft. I am disgusted by the lack of assistance either by the airlines or my insurance company who has stated that no claims will be met in association with this event. The airlines are crying out for financial assistance due to losses incurred but what about the passengers? We are more fortunate than some of the stories we have read but our money is rapidly running out and i have the safety of the two teenage girls now to consider, but as I see we have no choice, if a flight is offered we will have to take it and hope that the engines hold out!

  • Comment number 23.

    No, I'd not be prepared to fly in UK airspace at commercial jet height right now (and I'm pretty fearless). I do think that monitoring and sampling should be done on a continuous basis, however, and the situation reviewed frequently. Not getting on (or back from) your hols or to a meeting is far less disruptive than having a starring role in Air Crash Investigation!

    I agree with the earlier correspondents who have noted the tendency of insurance companies to renage on cover. What the heck else does anyone take out travel insurance for, apart from unforseen events that disrupt your trip?

    It is time to mount a major legal challenge against those insurers who refuse to honour their obligations with weasel words about 'acts of god.'

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 7 news_monitor

    Are you suggesting that Gordon Brown should pull away all Royal Navy ships from their duties to mount a rescue operation the scale of Dunkirk? I'd think 3 ships would be plenty to bring home those critically in need of returning home. I think that dragging the whole Royal Navy from their duties is an insane prospect and would cost the lives of servicemen and women in Afganistan and Iraq, or are you perhaps suggesting GB nationalise the private ferry companies for a couple of weeks, in which case he'd also get flayed alive. It's ash, and I doubt anyone's life is in danger if they have to stay in Spain an extra week. And for those who are in danger and need to get home asap, then the ships are on their way.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hell yes!
    If the crew are willing to drive it, I'll fly on it...
    The bigger question is "why has it taken the goverment, in the largest travel problem since the Twin Towers in the US, taken 4 days to even get a teleconference arranged to discuss this"
    I think it's typical of anything with in the public realm, a week to even notice, a month to ponder & a response if we can be arsed!

  • Comment number 27.

    I was becoming more and more sceptical about the need for a blanket ban on flying. This morning I came across a paper written by the US Geological Survey and issued by our CAA about the dangers of volcanic ash and gases. In the 12 years preceding the original publication, 60 commercial aircraft were damaged by volcanic ash clouds. One 747 cost $80 million to repair. Keep the ban.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    I live right under the flight path for Heathrow. I don't want planes with damaged engines coming in over my roof.

  • Comment number 30.

    I am due to fly on Wednesday.
    As far as things stand at the moment I would not be happy to fly at this stage.
    It was only a few days ago everyone was saying how dangerous it is for jets to fly through volcantic dust, now money has come into it it seems it is no longer dangerous!
    It is now getting to the stage where money is more inportant then safety.
    I think it would be better to say that there will be no more flights from UK air space until it is proven by the Met Office and NATS that there is no ash activity in the sky, that way there are no risks being taken.

  • Comment number 31.

    I already have.
    I took off from the top of ''Mount Bourtie'' wearing my high-visibility jacket and flapping my arms for all my worth.

    Take-off, airtime and landing all went smoothly.

    No coughing was registered, although there might have been a slight increase in Guinness consumption which could have cleared some of the pollution from the machinery.

    I don't know why Ryanair are still grounded...

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm not bothered if airlines fall out of business, but I am bothered if airplanes fall out of the sky. Especially if that is a consequence of the airlines focusing exclusively on their own survival.
    I am bothered that insurance companies are allowed to use an imaginary being to avoid coughing up. Their "act of god" nonsense excuse to rip everyone off and leave them stranded is disgusting, dishonest, and nothing but a scam.

  • Comment number 33.

    To the best of my knowledge there has never been any empirical scientific research done on just what is a safe concentration of ash to fly through.
    The test flights that have been up and sampled the air have gathered air samples which can't be measured against any baseline because we don't know where the threshold of ash concentration is. You sometimes can't see the ash ( and you certainly can't see it at night) that can stall a jet engine and neither can the aircraft's radar see it, so the test flights are not too sure just where they have been. All we know is they went into the sky flew in some random directions at random heights and returned to ground relatively unscathed.
    In another set of circumstances ( particularly at night) an aircraft could start a journey based on the presumption that the sky is clear of ash and then find itself in a section of the atmosphere where unseen ash can stall the engine.
    When KLM's flight 867 stalled all 4 engines outside Anchorage in 1989 the ash did not show on their radar, and the same was reported with BA's flight 9 in 1982.
    For this reason I would be a little nervous about flying particularly at night until the ash plume has fully dissipated.If what I have heard is true and cars on English roads have a fine layer of ash deposited on them overnight then the sky is a potential hazard for flying. Modern jet engines inhale vast amounts of air every second so there is just no way of telling when an engine might stall, especially when one is so far from land.

    I for one don't have a problem with the regulator's decisions to date. The commercial stakeholders however take a different view, but I would like to see who ducks for cover first when a fully laden wide body jet attempts to surf the Atltantic without power.....

  • Comment number 34.

    I certainly would not fly through the cloud but the could fly under or over the parts if they flew to visual flight rules and used their radar. I accept that jet engines are a lot less efficient at low levels and would have trouble carrying enough fuel for long haul flights but short haul and flights to refueling stops should be possible

  • Comment number 35.

    I don't ever fly any more, I got bored with it long ago. There is no possible justification for it. Video conferencing is perfectly good for almost all business meetings - I was doing them to Japan and the West Coast back in the 1980's, long before high bandwidth broadband. Going on a foreign holiday this year is unpatriotic as well as non-environmental - we need to pay off BoreDoom's the foreign debt first.

  • Comment number 36.

    The Ghosts of John Galt wrote: As much as I devote myself to wishing! As much as I attempt to convince myself of my abilities, alas I cannot fly!

    Please, BBC have the intelligence to present proper questions

    Would you fly? Yes of course I would - If I had wings sprouting from my shoulders! What a ridiculous question

    Actually it's a ridiculous comment, coming from someone who thinks themself smarter than they actually are.

  • Comment number 37.

    What do you think of the response to the crisis by the government and the airline industry?
    I think in the long-term, they have the wrong problem. Just as the EU has been running around trying to keep Greece from going bankrupt when the real problem has been American derivatives, credit default swaps, CDOs and betting against Greece's ability to succeed.
    What is the best way to tackle the crisis?
    For the immediate crisis, fly around, under or over the problem. Obey the rules (because of potential litigation or worse, loss of life).
    For the long-term resolution, take a good look at what happened in Iceland - the strange characteristics of this particular volcanic eruption, which I documented on a previous submission.
    Go to the United Nations and demand access to HAARP and other programs that may exist like HAARP.
    If someone doesn't stop this weather-weapon, this ionization, the weather will only get worse.

  • Comment number 38.

    I would Fly. After the knowledge that several test flights have been made and none with any problems after I am up for flying. There have been many other disasters that other countried have dealt with and not had to come to a stand still. Also I am due to fly on Ssaturday for my holiday which I have been waiting for for over a year now. Just my luck this would happen. However as I said I'd be quite happy to fly out.

  • Comment number 39.

    Lets get proactive. The real problem is the blow off the ICE cap...Sorted. Honestly so simple.

  • Comment number 40.

    In this age of obsessive health and safety checks somebody would need to do a risk assessment before anybody takes to the air.
    I cant really see any person taking that responsibility

    And would the airlines insurance policy cover the unthinkable should a plane drop out of the sky, or would they just say its a act of god...i for one would never fly untill the sky's are clear of ash

  • Comment number 41.

    The aircaft which lost all 4 engines in a vocano plume over Indonesia in 1982 is not the first or only such occasion. I believe a similar incident ocurred in te 1950s to a Britannia airliner over Mount Kilamanjaro in Kenya, and so the authroities have good reason to be cautious.

  • Comment number 42.

    I feel for the stranded passengers but in a way it's nice to know that mother nature still has the upper hand.This is the tip of a potential iceburg.Perhaps the god's are angry.To get back to the question I would not fly just now and think it's a good move to suspend flights.One downed plane can end hundreds of lives.

  • Comment number 43.

    It's odd that governments are banning flights on safety grounds but penty are allowed to kill themselves by driving in dangerous conditions.

    I'm not saying that flights should be allowed if it's really too dangerous, but the ban seems to be based on some computer model of the weather system and not on fact. I'm sure the airlines wouldn't want to fly if there was a real danger of a plane crashing. Everything in life is a risk, so it's just a matter of deciding how much risk we are willing to take.

  • Comment number 44.

    Is it possible to fly safely under the ash cloud? If so, that should be considered as a serious alternative to a flight ban. Perhaps various countries' weather monitoring services could provide constant updates to planes' pilots regarding the ash cloud's location and height, allowing the pilots to avoid the ash.

    If not, the ban must remain until the cloud disperses. If an airline did breach the ban and lost one or more planes to the ash, the compensation claims from surviving victims or relatives of those killed may well cause that airline to go out of business.

  • Comment number 45.

    Another reason for seriously looking at returning to airship designs for short haul flights, they don't crash if the engines fail.

  • Comment number 46.

    Me and my wife are supposed to be flying to NY on Thursday!

    I'm with #26 - if the pilot and crew are willing to take flight then I would be... however my wife is terrified of flying so not sure what we'll do if clearance is given... although, losing £900 due to pre-paying our hotel and having cheap insurance might help the decision a bit!

  • Comment number 47.

    I assume that the folks who know much more about these things than I do know what they are talking about- I can't imagine they would have taken such a decision lightly! They are doing the job that they are paid for! Lets leave them to get on with their jobs!

  • Comment number 48.

    I am also a private pilot as another poster below, although I haven't flown now for almost six years.

    Yesterday I was speaking to a friend who is a retired Rolls Royce engineer and knows his jet engines.

    The trouble is that although the dust cloud might be fine, it is the actual accumulation of the ash that the jet engine cannot dispose of. So it's the combination of ash over a 100 mile distance that the engines can't get rid of, and hence the fear to the safety of the engine and the plane. I am no expert, but he is, and he categorically told me that the jet engines cannot dispose of this stuff.

    What my fellow colleague private pilot below didn't mention is that flights are allowed in private aircraft below 3,000 feet. This doesn't really put them anywhere close to the ash cloud at circa 20,000 to 30,000 feet. Also, most private aircraft are propeller based (turbo-prop) whereas the commercial aircraft are obviously jet engines. So he/she was not really comparing like-for-like. That is why private aircraft were allowed to fly at all!!

    I don't want to get in to a debate about this here, but if you're going to use your position as an aviator, do it responsibly and don't indicate that everything's OK when it clearly is not.

    So would I fly? No.

  • Comment number 49.

    It may not have much of an impact but has the MOD not thought of using railways to shuttle the passengers from the Madrid Hub that is mentioned . I would have thought some rolling stock (class 66 possibly ) self contained sleeper or as near as for a day's journey from Madrid back through the tunnel and / or Heathrow .....

    A single train with clearance for the journey on standard gauge might be possible ?

    A few problems being of course the change of gauge .

    But somewhere there must be a plan for something like this . Moving a whole train all the way from UK to as near as possible Spain and link up for a rail evacuation scenario .

  • Comment number 50.

    No, I would not fly. We should never play fast and loose with people's lives for any reason. If there is a risk it is right that the restrictions stay in place. Hard on the airlines and the stranded people, but there you go.
    For all those peole who think they can control everything, this is a very good lesson in how much control you really have. If nature decides to fling a big ash cloud at you there is absolutely nothing whatever that you can do about it!
    Meanwhile, good on the government and the Royal Navy for trying. It might only be a handful of ships, but these ships were busy doing other things before the ash cloud appeared and nobody knew in advance how long this "crisis" would last.
    I am now hoping it will keep Chris Moyles off the airwaves for as long as possible. ;o)

  • Comment number 51.

    IN response to the insurance issue, Insurance is one big cartel and look at any excuse not to pay you. I feel for those stuck out in other countries, having to forego pay and possibly incur the displeasure of their boss if the company they work for is under enough strain already. As for flying. Maybe the Met office again has made a mountain out of a molehill, perhaps being to over zealous about health and safety, but as it is pointed out earlier - one plane crash would cause even more trouble. Of course, if this is all over played, that is yet another nail in the coffin for the Metoffice, and I feel that is where the public sector cuts axe may fall first!

  • Comment number 52.

    Just goes to prove that when all is said and done the airports and airlines are only really interested in profits, not safety.
    Words are cheap!

  • Comment number 53.

    Considering Willie Walsh has just been up on BA's test flight, yes. He wouldn't have risked it (probably would have sent a few cabin crew instead) unless it was safe.
    What I don't understand is the number of schoolchildren and their teachers complaining about being stranded on school trips all over Europe and as far afield as China, saying they'll miss important schoolwork in the run-up to their exams.
    If their exams are so important, what were they doing jollying all over the world during Easter? Shouldn't they have been at home instead, revising?

  • Comment number 54.

    I dont see the priminister doing any thing for all the asian community stranded in india, and pakistan, china,
    and how are all the asian comunity supposed to get back for their
    destinations from east asia?
    all the priministers on obout the people stranded over europe
    wot about the rest of the stranded people .or he's only bothered about
    europions stranded in europe.
    my parents have been stranded in india since the 15th april 2010 and still havernt herd any thing from the airline as they cant get through to anyone at the booking office.
    how are they supposed to get back? harvinder singh...

  • Comment number 55.

    Would I fly? At the moment no, the evidence of the damage that ash can cause jet engines has been in the public domain for a number of years and it is the correct course of action to stop flying if there is any chance of planes being affected by it. The real question is to determine when it is safe to resume flying. Personally I am happy being stranded in spain until brought home via land/sea while there is any chance of planes being damaged in the skies - just because some planes, and only some, have had no adverse affect being flown does not mean that all flightz can resume as normal: there's more than plenty ash up there to bring down a number of planes.

    I would congratulate the authorities on the steps they are taking and believe that a fortnight in the sun is not worth risking peoples lives and planes for!

  • Comment number 56.

    In my view anyone boarding an airliner so long as volcanic ash is in the air would be foolhardy to say he least. Insurers will invoke clauses like act of god /act of war in these situations because it is impossible to expect unlimited cover for the average premium paid bearing in mind the conceived probability of the delay currently caused. Similarly if I was an insurer of an aircraft I would be telling he owner any cover was invalid until I was satisfied therewas minimal risk.
    With regard to compensating airines via the taxpayer these politicins ust be mad. Airlines have cut each other's throats for years offering ever cheaper fares, cutting profitability and insurance cover as they went. Every business needs hep at present, but banks don't want to help. Why is the taxpayer considered an insurer of last resort? The first party to support the idea (my bet's on GB) loses my vote.

  • Comment number 57.

    yes i would like to fly i'm due to travel home on friday and my home is in north cyprus, i'm here in the uk visiting my friends and family. however a lot is being said about people who can't get back what about people who can't get out. is anything being done for them

  • Comment number 58.

    While I do feel for those many people stranded as a result of this, the up side is that London has had nice quiet mornings with no plane noises from 6am. Fantastic! I'll bet the people living near Heathrow are loving this!

    Plus, there be a whole load of CO2 which has not been emitted by the 1000's of flights not flying.

  • Comment number 59.

    #46 - your lives are cheap! I'd need a bit more of an incentive than £900 to take the risk.

  • Comment number 60.


    It is becoming clear that beardy-weirdies have infiltrated our aviation safety boards and issued fraudulant advice in an attempt to clear our skies of aircraft.

    The green lobby should be ashamed of themselves.

    I shall be flying.

  • Comment number 61.

    Even if a plane was to successfully complete its flight there may be engine damage that result in a failure at a later date. Would you like to be on that plane?

  • Comment number 62.

    I agree with the posts regarding if just one plane were to fall out of the sky. Its just a case of the lesser of two evils and how much chance do the airlines want to take.
    Lose millions in grounded aircraft facing potential bankrupcy, or with the warnings of what could happen being widely publicised, if just one plane fell from the sky the airline could be facing corporate manslaughter charges being imposed, with all the associated consequences...

  • Comment number 63.

    It's all well and good saying that 'maybe this should make us reconsider our dependence on air travel' but some of us have no option. My wife is American and short of someone inventing instantaneous teleportation or the return of the steamers / Zeppelins to the North Atlantic, jet aircraft are the only way for us to realistically visit family there. Given the option of avoiding the airlines with their refusal to accommodate larger people, DVT, endless queues, bad air, worse food, security theatre, escalating prices / nickel-and-diming customers for everything from checked baggage to using the loo, I'd actually accept a considerable time penalty in order to avoid the complete indignity of flying but there simply isn't any other option and in our case if this eruption keeps up much longer we'll miss the deadline for her to enter the UK on the spouse visa (resulting in a whole new application at a cost of $1000+). I think there are ways of reducing the amount of flying needed but that they should come from the business community rather than individual leisure travellers - many meetings can be replaced by conference calls, video conferencing, even e-mailing forecasts and presentations. I would argue that seeing your nieces and nephews grow up is far more important than some overpaid business type hopping the Pond for a 9am pow-wow in NYC, only to go straight back to JFK and be home for supper (albeit completely frazzled) but then what would I know.

  • Comment number 64.

    My boyfriend and I are stuck in Crete, not a bad place to be stuck judging by the fates of others. We have a hotel and get updated by Thomas Cook reps each day.
    It makes us angry to see airlines putting pressure on to resume flights due to financial concerns. As a couple we are not losing millions, of course, but my boyfriend, as a self-employed plasterer, is losing his entire income as we were supposed to be back home thursday of last week, thats a lot of money to us. However, we would rather this than risk flying home until it is completely safe in the air. Surely human safety comes before money?
    Our other worry is that we will have to go in the air when instructed to by our travel company else we will have to pay for accomodation and later flights - we do not have the money for this. We are nervous flyers anyway without the added worry of volcanic ash in the air. I am a teacher and need to get back to work but desperately hope I am not flying until it is completely safe.
    I wish we could enjoy a few extra days holiday but not being in control of your own fate is not a nice feeling.

  • Comment number 65.

    I fear the airlines are more worried about profit and cash than the safety of their passengers. Even if they say “safety” is their first concern! Totally obvious that it is not!

  • Comment number 66.

    Like most people I'm outraged the insurance companies are trying to weasel out of paying people and airline companies (as someone else has said) gets enough fuel tax cuts I would protest if they are given any taxpayers money.

    As for business trying to shift perishable goods around - why are they letting them rot - have they tried to sell more locally?

    I stopped flying for environmental reasons some years ago and this has made me glad of my decision. That sounds really smug sorry; but giving up flying was a very painful decision.

    I can't believe anyone would fly unless absolutely certain it was safe (for their children’s future as well as to avoid falling out the sky).

  • Comment number 67.

    The powers that be have made a complete mess of this. The risks of flying planes is in my view extremely small unless you are stupid enough to fly through the thicker clouds near the Volcano. I am sure that provide aircraft had kept out of a 500 mile exclusion zone near the Volcano everything would have been ok.
    We are now in a silly situation where the authorities will come up with some excuse to resume flying as they can not afford to let the situation go on for months on end. I will be extremely surprised if flights aren't operating by the weekend, despite the fact that the risk to planes is no different that it was last Thursday when the ban on flying was introduced.

  • Comment number 68.

    I am due to fly this week back to University from Belfast to Newcastle and I am not prepared to risk my safety. I would much rather fly when the all clear is given. The cabin crew will be tortured with questions and queries throughout the flight and I would not be comfortable on a flight where I will be stressing the whole of the journey. I would much rather wait this out until I know I will definitly be safe.

  • Comment number 69.

    Bernadette from HYS here. Thanks for your comments - keep sending them in. We're especially interested in hearing from people who work in the airline and travel industries. How have you been affected?

  • Comment number 70.

    36. At 12:48pm on 19 Apr 2010, luskentyre wrote:

    //Actually it's a ridiculous comment, coming from someone who thinks themself smarter than they actually are.//

    I do not think I am smart! But in any possible interpretation, I know with certainty I cannot fly anywhere at present. :-)

  • Comment number 71.

    I flew into the tiny Island of Montserrat a few years ago which has had an active volcano belching out ash on a daily basis for the last 13 years or so. No-one seemed terribly concerned about the ash cloud - except it was a good idea not to fly through it. They didn't close down flights to the rest of the Caribbean area either (Antigua where BA and Virgin fly to is only a few miles away). If the wind changed in the direction of the airport then they closed the airport until it shifted - the volcano is about 5 miles away from the airport ! What's going on ? And what a farce to send warships to the channel ports when there are perfectly good ferries running normally and completely unaffected by volcanic ash. There wouldn't be an election by any chance would there ? We all know that Gordon Brown likes a major crisis to take the credit for.

  • Comment number 72.

    As usual this is a gross over reaction. It is generated by the risk avertion caused by fear of the press.
    The reality is that a high number of flights could have been undertaken, in safety (fron the ash) by flying at a low level.
    Get a grip.

  • Comment number 73.

    Absolutely not!

    Just take a look at the BBC's photos from around the UK - especially the one taken from the top of Snowdon, and you will see that there's still an alarming amount of dust present in the atmosphere (and it could be there for weeks). What we do know as fact:

    Fact 1) There is still dust in the atmosphere above the UK - 'Dangerous levels' according to the Met office test flight sent up on Sunday.

    Fact 2) Volcanic dust causes jet engines to shut down.

    Fact 3) Evidence proves there is still a risk - NATO fighter planes with damaged engines at the weekend prove this.

    With all this evidence, why exactly are the airlines questioning the science and saying there is no evidence now to prove that flying us unsafe at the moment? Could it be that the industry is losing millions of pounds each day? Is it not just a case of them putting profit before lives?

    Well, I'd suggest if they really do think it's safe to fly right now, the first test flights should be full of these people and their families. We'll see how many armchair scientists take up the challenge!

    The number one task of any government is to keep their citizens safe. They must not give in to pressure from businesses and only restart flights again when the scientists say it is 100% safe to do so.

  • Comment number 74.

    We where due to fly Heathrow to USA on Sat but re-arranged to Tuesday. BA have just contacted us (about 1pm) saying the flights are cancelled for tomorrow. We where also advised that we could not make any re-arrangements until Saturday as the "system won't allow them to" at this point in time. If I was given the choice I would take a flight just now.

  • Comment number 75.

    I personally would fly on the next flight available. Whenever l have flown in the past, l have readily paid my dues and got on a plane that l believe the pilot can fly. As is the case now, l would still get on a plane and fly as the pilot would not knowingly take a plane into the sky if they felt that it is unsafe to do so.
    As a regular driver, l can guarantee that more accidents appear on our roads than in the sky, so l would have no problem flying!!

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    Before ANYONE answers this fly no fly question I would suggest they take a look at the photos of the internal damage done to several Nato F16 & F18 fighter jet engines by flying through a bit of this ash cloud a few days ago! Would I fly? NO, & I don't think anyone else should be allowed to put the rest of us on the ground at risk either!

  • Comment number 78.

    7. At 12:21pm on 19 Apr 2010, news_monitor wrote:
    "Would you fly?" you ask.
    Well, for a start - and ignoring the fact that unfortunately I don't have wings - I'd rather sail. And if I was one of these stranded Britons, what would my chances be of that? Not a lot, I fear, since Brown has decided to send a palty three Royal Navy ships to the rescue. THREE ships? My, oh my! Is that the best he can do? Does he have no knowledge of the Evacuation of Dunkirk? One can only deduce from this that Brown has decided that the vast majority of these poor unfortunate people are not supporters of the Labour Party, bearing in mind the forthcoming General Election. Hopefully, this part of his Plan will be in vain. More ships required, please!

    One of the three ships is the Ark Royal. What do you want, the whole of the navy to abandon its roll throughout the world?
    Typical Tory comment just like Cameron trying to make political capital out of others misfortune.

  • Comment number 79.

    one more bail out at taqx payers money...especiaqlly at election tgime for votes...i have sympathy for those stranded abroad but they have to take their own responsibility ,if their insurance does not pay them ,they should pay for it or enjoy ,,but stop complaining.there are so many in UK who have their plans changed but they aqre not complaining , and these people flew off to enjoy holidays so now pay for many times we the common people have to share the burden of ir respoonsible,state dependant greedy moaners

  • Comment number 80.

    The worrying thing is, if IATA have their way, flights will be operating therefore you will have no choice but to fly.

  • Comment number 81.

    No, I wouldn't fly until the all-clear is given unless I absolutely had to. Why take the risk?

    What I am disgusted about is the insurance companies' "Act of God" excuse. A lot more people wouldn't be as desperate to get home if their insurance company had any morals.

    How are they allowed to get away with this? They could apply this to anything they wanted; illness, natural death, accidents or even the hotel collapsing could all fall under this category if you were inclined to believe in fate. Its fair to say that they would probably try if enough people were making a claim. If there is no one to blame then insurance companies should have to pay up, otherwise what is the point of insurance? Every sector of insurance should be overhauled and strongly regulated, the industry is one big money making scam.

  • Comment number 82.

    'Would you fly'? Absolutely yes! But, only if all those EU Transport Ministers and Giovanni (Head of Airline Industry Body) and all those unelected EU Commission eurocrats joined in and shared the flight with us?

    Naturally, they would be in biz class - but never mind - at least they would have the courage of their constant whingeing?

    Furthermore, insurance companies are being very adept at moving small print goalposts - less shocking than volcanic eruptions?

  • Comment number 83.

    #74 Me! Me! Me!
    Pilots have families too!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Having arrived for our wedding in Mauritius last week, we expected to have a relaxing 21 nights in a superb hotel. Alas the Ash cloud has all but ruined our wedding dreams as our guests due to fly out this Wednesday (21/4) have very little chance of arriving!

    For all those scaremongerers calling for flights to wait until the ash is cleared, the raw facts show that planes can fly through the 'evil' ash and survive.... a flight to Mauritius will probably see a plane in the ash-zone for about 2 hours give or take, then its clear to take its normal route.

    Its just more scaremongering by scientists who enjoy their five minutes of fame and yet another bandwagon for people to jump aboard. All modes of transport carry a risk these days, get the planes up and lets get back to normal as lets be honest, the ash is just another drama ruining lives for those innocent people wanting to enjoy themselves or get on with everyday business.

  • Comment number 85.

    Will the BBC stop flooding the news with this story.

    I think by now those that need to be told have been told and a reminder every so often is fine.

    However, plastering this all over the news all of the time is over kill and quite frankly wasting people's time.

    Please get back onto reporting on what government policies are or are not working so the people of this country get a chance to make an informed choice at the next election.

    And no that doesn't mean reporting on people ties, potential PM's wives, or which is good looking,,,

    I really do think it is time the BBC was sold off as we the public are not getting a service which meets the needs of the national interest - more the needs of some glossy womans magazine.

    Completely and utterly disgusted in the BBC.

  • Comment number 86.

    Nope, not a chance in hell would I risk flying at the moment. once the met offices around the world give the all clear then yes with bells on, but until then, no way. What bothers me is that the airlines seem hell bent on ignoring the advice given and taking flights up to 'test' anyway. The industry are saying this could have a worse effect than 9/11... how?? On their pockets maybe, but on overall passenger numbers? I doubt it, a airline abiding by the current no fly zone and trying to get stranded passengers home is more likely to have MORE passengers after this because they are being safe and helpful. The airlines who want to fly now, are not being safe and I wouldn't fly with them any time in the future. If they aren't willing to abide by the advice now who knows what corners they are willing to cut in future? I don't give a monkeys about airlines profits or how much this is costing them but you can bet if one of these test flights comes down over a residential area no one will be covered... and if that happens the air industry can kiss goodbye to flying anywhere any time soon.Better now to wait and wait it out properly than be sorry later. One plane coming down due to this will kill the entire industry and from my standpoint,that may not be such a bad thing if they are going to be that reckless.
    Another point, just how slow and stupid is the government? I mean, hello?! We have Brits stuck abroad waiting, needing to get home and they appear to doing nothing about this?! Three ships across the channel.. what about OUTSIDE of the EU?? The world does not consist of just the EU(despite what the governments want us to believe!)and many people are stuck in foriegn places, maybe the government liasing with others to get these poor people back into Europe at least? Forget the election, half the electorate are out of the country, or is that the plan..?!

  • Comment number 87.

    What’s Wrong with the world.. Of course I would not fly and as for all the food that is about to go rotten at Heathrow I would give it to the homeless people in London and the restaurants and show a little common sense. In all the news reports its just about money being lost.. People are so keen to get in the air.

    It’s such a shame we are at a point in our evolution where potential life and death situations have fiscal factors involved with decision making.. almost as insane as having political decisions tied in with religious beliefs

  • Comment number 88.

    Why should safety be compromised in the pursuit of commerce?

  • Comment number 89.

    I am no expert in aviation, but maybe an experienced pilot could explain why the planes cannot fly below the dust clouds? As I understand, the volcanic dust cloud is at 20/30,000ft - So why not just fly at 15,000 for the journey over European airspace? Would that cause other problems? Anybody able to answer the question?

  • Comment number 90.

    I have been unable to get to back to the UK since Friday - and it looks unlikely for some more days unless I decide to coach/ferry/train it. I have rescheduled for Wed, but I am all for just getting on with it. I am prepared to sign a waiver. From what I can understand the two planes which went through the cloud landed safely, the aircrafts were a mess but that is the airline's problem.
    I think people are making a big deal. To be perfectly honest having had over 2500 take-offs so far, my view is that odds stack up against you with more take-offs and landing, so I was already resigned to this fact so I say fly.

  • Comment number 91.

    All the airlines want planes to fly again so they can get back to making money, while hoping that if there is a disaster it'll involve someone else's plane and not theirs, so they can then blame that incident on one airline not taking proper precautions.

    A further outrage which seems to have been buried under the ash is the revelation that Europe's Transport Ministers don't routinely use video conferencing and that this instance is an emergency measure! What?! Whatever the current circumstances, air travel is fundamentally destructive to the environment in so many ways, with far too much of it devoted to the luxury of shunting people in suits (quite apart from flowers, fruit and veg!) across vast distances to accomplish things that could be done over the phone and Internet in five minutes.

    I sympathise enormously with those stranded across the world and I've been helping some friends who are stuck in the UK, but I can't help wishing that this problem persists for as long as possible - people might learn a few things.

  • Comment number 92.

    I've been saving for about a year for a holiday in Japan and I will be heartbroken if my plane does not fly at the end of the month.

    Would I fly now?
    There is always a risk in flying, so I am not overly concerned about this.

  • Comment number 93.

    Yes, I would fly today. True, I don't have access to the same information as all the experts, but as far as I know the only times aircraft have suffered problems as the result of volcanic eruptions was when they flew too close to an actual volcano. To me it looks like just another example of the risk-free excessive safety culture we now have in Europe, where no-one is bold enough to take a decision that might ultimately result in them being held to blame.

  • Comment number 94.

    If flying right now is so dangerous - then why do they let BA take a 747 up in the air and fly it through the cloud?

    I believe that there is scope now to allow *some* flights to recommence, no airline (or their insurers for that matter) will fly a plane full of passengers unless they believe it to be safe to do so. If I was booked with an airline who believed that to be the case, then I would fly.

    What does need to be looked at is alternatives to getting people moving. For example, open up capacity through the Channel Tunnel for additional passenger trains from all over Europe - several operators have trains which meet the standards required.

  • Comment number 95.

    All of the baggage handlers at Manchester Airport were told on Friday not to turn in until Tuesday, tomorrow. As most of them are casuals, they have taken a large loss of earnings. I am assuming that someone knows a lot more than I do, and that the ban is actually going to end tomorrow. We shall see. I don't see why the airlines feel entitled to state compensation. It's a bit ironic that the baggage handlers should lose their wages, and then pay taxes to keep the airlines shareholders and manager from losing theirs. Many of the passangers are in danger of losing their holiday money because of the giant insurance cop out, but what about the airlines? Surely they should have insurance against such an evantuallity - it must be cheap insurance, because this is the first time there would ever have been a claim. It's the same the whole world over -it's the poor wot gets the blame.

  • Comment number 96.

    With increasing pressure from the airlines and some EU politicians to end the flight bans, the professional scientists and safety specialist appear to be under pressure to compromise their necessarily exacting standards.

    It is worrying when the political agenda takes precedence over scientific and technical competence, as illustrated by the climate change debate.

    The statement by Siim Kallas is illuminating. He said "We cannot just wait until this ash cloud dissipates." That is precisely what we may have to do. But he is right in that coordinated action is needed. I suggest a few priorities. Rather than a blanket end to the flight ban, freight aircraft could be allowed to fly initially – one advantage being that it reduces passenger risk. Stranded passengers of long-haul flights are the next priority. The airline industry should make a joint and coordinated initiative to return them home before worrying about a return to normal business. Thirdly, it may be a good idea to allow passenger aircraft crews (without passengers) to fly to their timetabled departure points by a given date, in the hope that passenger flights can commence on that date. The problem is deciding that date - maybe Saturday 24 April.

    The biggest burden for stranded passengers is uncertainty. Specifying an agreed and feasible fixed date by which flights can proceed will help reduce anxiety. At the moment the airlines are simply nudging back their planned flights one day at a time. Far better if they officially cancel all their flights for one week (with hindsight, they should have done that at the start) and allow passengers to transfer back to those flights if they become available sooner. Instead of complaining about their financial losses, the passenger carriers should focus on communicating with their customers – and begin by providing properly staffed emergency telephone lines.

  • Comment number 97.

    I am in the US at the moment and due to fly back home to the UK on Friday hopefully. Asked the question if I would fly back now the answer would be a definite NO. The airlines claim that they have Passenger Saftey as their main priority but all you here on the news is how much they are loss in revenue per day. I haven't heard anything from an airline that relates to passenger safety. What price do they put on a plane full of people?

    It's safe to fly when people other than the airlines say so and not before.

    It's a really unfortunate situation and I know that there are many individuals suffering because they are stranded and running out of funds, but it's better to be on the ground at this present moment in time.........Hang in there guys.

  • Comment number 98.

    The no fly response is correct.

    No sympathy for those that partake in needless flying. I can hardly afford the diesel to get me the 12 miles to work and back.
    No to bailing out airlines, they are superfluous to civilisation.
    No to being forced to buy useless insurance.
    Yes to less noise and pollution.

  • Comment number 99.

    Several things seem clear to me:
    1. The Met Office's role is to track where the cloud is, and how dense it is.
    2. NATS's responsibility is air traffic control
    3. It is the airlines' and engine manufacturers responsibility to determine whether it is safe to fly an aircraft with the levels of ash detected by the Met Office.

    If recent test flights show no adverse effects on aircraft, then surely the first stage is to re-start freight flights. This will alleviate a number of the detrimental knock-on effects (such as Kenyan flowers), and provide further evidence of the safety or otherwise of more extensive flying.

    To make the call to immediately resume passenger flights is not something I would like to do, and seems an unnecessarily risky way forward.

  • Comment number 100.

    Bring back Concorde - it flew at 60,000 ft, as I recall.


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