Ryanair chief says ash won't close airspace

23rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The chief executive of low-cost airline Ryanair predicted Monday there would be no large-scale closure of airspace as volcanic ash from Iceland drifts towards Britain.

Michael O'Leary was highly critical of the authorities' response when ash from an Icelandic volcano caused the biggest shutdown of European airspace since World War II in April and May last year.

The Irish airline said Monday the closure cost it nearly 30 million euros ($42 million) as flights were grounded and passengers stranded.

But O'Leary said the aviation authorities were better prepared this time, and they were prepared to leave the decision to ground planes largely in the hands of airlines.

"What they tend to do is to let the airlines continue to fly. We do inspections every time there is a landing," he told BBC radio.

"If we notice any dust on the aircraft then we take appropriate procedures.

"But there is no ash cloud by the time it gets to the UK or to continental Europe, the thing is dispersed -- that was our experience last time, and I think the widescale airspace shutdowns won't be repeated."

Experts say ash from the Grimsvoetn volcano is expected to drift across Britain later in the week.

© 2011 AFP

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