IATA slams Europe's handling of volcanic ash crisis

18th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Aviation association IATA criticised European governments on Tuesday over the volcanic ash crisis, saying that they were making neither effective nor consistent decisions on airspace restrictions.

"The current European-wide system to decide on airspace closures is not working," said Giovanni Bisignani, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association.

"We have lost confidence in the ability of Europe's governments to make effective and consistent decisions. Using the same data, different countries have come to different conclusions on opening or closing airspace," he added.

Plumes of thick ash from Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano, which in April shut down much of Europe's airspace for a week last month, drifted over the continent Monday, closing major airports again and cancelling some 1,000 flights.

Bisignani acknowledged that since volcanic ash was a "new challenge" for aviation, it was understandable that systems had to be developed to deal with it.

"But what is absolutely inexcusable is the failure of Europe's governments to act urgently and collectively to provide real leadership in a crisis," he said.

Bisignani noted that Britain was "moving in the right direction" after aviation regulators decided to introduce new measures from midday on Tuesday which will allow flights in thicker ash than previously permitted for a certain amount of time.

The new area -- called a "Time-Limited Zone" -- was created after discussions between regulators and manufacturers, said regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

However, Bisignani criticised other European governments for their inaction, noting that the next transport ministers' meeting is scheduled for June 24.

"What kind of leadership waits more than a month to make crisis decisions?

"European businesses are dependant on air travel and passengers certainly cannot wait that long for initiatives like the UK's to be implemented continent-wide," he said.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article