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BA says test flight shows air ban ‘unnecessary’

Published on 19/04/2010

British Airways said Monday that a test flight to assess the risk of volcanic ash to its planes had found no problems, showing that a blanket airspace closure was "unnecessary" and should be lifted.

Analysis of the test flight Sunday through parts of the no-fly zone imposed due to ash from a volcano in Iceland “has revealed no variations in the aircraft’s normal operational performance,” said a BA statement.

The aircraft was fully inspected after the test-flight from London’s Heathrow airport, said BA boss Willie Walsh.

“The analysis we have done so far, alongside that from other airlines’ trial flights, provides fresh evidence that the current blanket restrictions on airspace are unnecessary,” he said.

And he added: “We call on the government urgently to adopt new policies that would allow us to resume flying.

“Safety is the overriding priority for an airline. We use our expertise in risk assessment across a wide range of safety issues to make decisions on the safe operation of flights every day.

“We believe that we should be allowed to take the same responsibility over safety issues over the recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland.”

The comments came ahead of a video conference between European Union (EU) transport ministers to discuss their response to the volcanic ash cloud, which has grounded flights across much of northern Europe for five days.