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Flights stay grounded amid hovering ash

TT/AFP/The Local · 17 Apr 2010, 00:10

Published: 17 Apr 2010 00:10 GMT+02:00

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The Swedish Aviation Authority (LFV) said flights could be grounded for the rest of the weekend.

"We're not seeing any improvements based on the forecasts we currently have at our disposal. We'll get the next forecast on Saturday morning and will make a new decision then," said LFV press spokesman Björn Stenberg.

Sweden started to gradually open up airspace in its sparsely populated north at 8am, but authorities eventually closed some of the area up again, citing renewed ash cloud risks.

"We have this cloud with volcano ash coming in again from the Norwegian side. From 7pm [on Friday] we have to close part of (the area that was open) due to contamination," Karl Selling of LFV told AFP.

"At 9pm [on Friday], the only thing that will be open will be the very far north" of Sweden, he added.

Meteorologists explained that high altitude winds tend to blow in a westerly direction, pushing the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland right over Sweden.

"The location of the volcano is somewhat unfortunate from our perspective," said Elin Torstensson at meteoroligal agency SMHI.

Norway and Sweden temporarily reopened some airspace on Friday, while Denmark and Finland said they were grounding all traffic until Saturday at least due to a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland.

Along with Britain, Scandinavia was the region most affected by the colossal ash cloud slowly spreading over half of Europe and forcing the continent's biggest air travel shutdown since World War II.

In Finland, an important hub between Europe and Asia, all flights were grounded late on Thursday and airport authorities said traffic could remain restricted for many days, which is how long meteorologists have forecast the cloud will hover over the Nordic country.

The Finnish airforce said pn Friday several F-18 Hornet jets that had flown only short flights over Finland on Thursday while the airspace remained open had seen "significant damage" to their engines from the volcanic ash.

Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland all completely closed their airspaces on Thursday, gradually shutting zones as the ash cloud approached.

Grounded passengers stormed buses and trains in the region, with Sweden's long-distance bus company Swebus saying its traffic had tripled.

National rail companies across the region added trains, while taxis saw business boom, with numerous fares between the Nordic capitals.

Oslo Taxi reported that its longest trip so far had been a 1,800-kilometre drive from Oslo to Paris, while Monty Python comedy legend John Cleese took a $5,100 ride from the Norwegian capital to Brussels.

Scandinavian airline SAS cancelled 742 flights on Friday, grounding all but a few flights in the north of Norway as services restarted at a very slow pace.

Norway, the first European country to begin shutting down its airspace late Wednesday, started to allow flights from 9am in its northern half on Friday, for a limited time window.

"The decision (to open part of the airspace) was made on the basis of the latest meteorological data," airport authority Avinor said in a statement.

"Ambulance flights will be given priority, and some passenger flights. In other words, (the airspace will) not open to normal flow of traffic," it added.

Story continues below…

Kastrup airport in Copenhagen, the region's most important hub, was devoid of traffic on Friday as Denmark said it would not open its airspace before 2pm on Saturday at the earliest.

Authorities announced earlier on Friday first that airspace would open at 2am, before postponing the deadline after examining new meteorological data.

"As long as there is still ash in Danish skies we will not take any risk and will keep our airspace closed," Jan Eliassen, a spokesman for air traffic control authority Naviair told AFP.

Ironically, airports remained open in Iceland due to favourable wind conditions, an airport authority spokeswoman told AFP, but flew flights could leave the island because the airspace was closed at most destinations.

"The wind is still taking the ash east to Europe," Hjordis Gudmundsdottir said.

Iceland's second volcanic eruption in less than a month began under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in the south of the country on Wednesday.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

01:21 April 17, 2010 by cbeynch
I always felt that these Icelanders were a menace to civilization. How dare they unleash a volcanic eruption to the detriment of sophitiscated Europeans??? Let's face it, these Vikings are not excactly known as a benign people. History have taught us that they raped, pillaged, robbed and destroyed. Ask any Englishman. We must ensure that Iceland never becomes part of EU. Keep these Nordsmen out! We can start by imposing visa restrictions on all Icelanders wishing to visit Europe. And their language!!! It hasn't changed since the 7th century! Heaven help us! Protect us from these violent, primitive, Icelanders. They can't be trusted!
04:47 April 17, 2010 by jazzIIIlove

you are right, we cannot let Icelanders invade the greatest Europe even by a volcano. EU must take measures against Icelanders and their "stupid" volcano.

P.S. As a geologist, I can say this may continue even for months so be prepared.
05:30 April 17, 2010 by concept
Why can't we just jolly well nuke the dam volcano.What a bloody nuisance those sniveling Icelanders are.
08:27 April 17, 2010 by jazzIIIlove
The very interesting thing is the flights from Iceland itself are not cancelled at all.

09:14 April 17, 2010 by Jansandred
The British and Dutch banks: "No, No! We said we wanted *cash*, not *ash!"
09:19 April 17, 2010 by wdwizard
To: Jansandred

That would be *LOL* if I wasn't stuck in Stockholm unable to get home to my wife and little daughter.

So it is just *lol*. :-)
09:25 April 17, 2010 by J Jack
Being 'stuck' anywhere in Sweden is simply daunting ...
11:17 April 17, 2010 by rba
Stop with the lame "cash not ash" jokes. It wasn't that funny the first time, and it sure as heck isn't funny the tenth time.
11:43 April 17, 2010 by nakiboyinsweden
come on rba... wouldnt hurt for you to be a little more lava-ly to the posters.
12:16 April 17, 2010 by sebseb
Here is the volcano live http://eldgos.mila.is/eyjafjallajokull-fra-valahnjuk/

It is gonna last another couples of days.

And according to officials in Iceland, things are definitely not getting better

14:06 April 17, 2010 by ajohnrahimovich
In Stockholm Central Station which International and Domestic Trains departures, dame more people as then normal. Even i couldnt find seat in domestic train between Stockholm-Vasteras-Orebro. I can not imagen Stockholm-Oslo and Stockholm-Copenhagen trains. So many people with their laggages are on the Stockholm streets. wow, is it true that period will last in 4 months more? it will be catastrophy...
19:51 April 17, 2010 by RichardDennys
I just went to find a rail ticket to Amsterdam in Stockholm Central Station but the ticket machine "The International Sales Desk is now Closed. Our opening hours are Mon-Fri only". Thanks for that. I pulled ticket 734, the windows were on 590...
21:21 April 17, 2010 by hunnysnowbee
My flight home to the UK tomorrow has been cancelled. Although stressing about how I am now going to get home, I must say I am happy to be stranded in Sweden as it means I get to spend more time with my fiance. :) I do really feel for those poor people stranded in not so good situations though. :(
00:44 April 18, 2010 by Marko2010S
@cbeynch #1

hahahahahahahahaha , That is freakin' hilarious!

Seriously though, I believe that we should evacuate the 320 thousand Icelanders out of Iceland and nuke that useless island completely.

I guess we have huge empty areas in Sweden, Finland and Norway. We are tired of them: their economy collapsed, now the nature of their land is causing the whole world problems.... who knows what next will come out of them...
02:12 April 18, 2010 by cbeynch
Hver sá er rita vill til hlítar sögu íslenzks skáldskapar frá upphafi til þesaa dags, verður að horfast í augu við þann örðugleika, sem á brúa sæmilga hið beiða sund á milli fornaldarinnar… - I'm telling you folks, these icelanders are nothing but trouble. Look at it! You actually believe that??? Boycott Iceland now!
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