IATA calls for unified ash cloud response

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European governments must come together to agree on an unified response on air safet so as to prevent a repeat of last year's chaos brought on by Iceland's volcanic ash cloud, IATA said Tuesday.

As hundreds of flights were grounded Tuesday amid a plume of ash from a new eruption in Iceland, the International Air Transport Association stressed that while coordination appeared to have improved this time compared to 2010, there remained gaps.

"The process is working much more effectively and we have avoided the blanket airspace closures that brought much of the world to a standstill last year," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA chief executive.

"But there is still no formal obligation for a unified and coordinated response.

"European Transport Ministers should formally agree their determination to avoid a repeat of the 2010 chaos by embracing a common process based on airline safety risk assessments for determining whether and when it is safe to fly," he stressed.

IATA had blamed an uncoordinated response for the flight chaos last year which it estimated cost airlines $1.8 billion in lost revenues.

In 2010, a cloud of ash from the Eyjafjoell volcano grounded more than 100,000 flights and left eight million passengers stranded.

© 2011 AFP

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