Spain calls for 'common' Europe airspace after ash crisis

Spain proposed on Friday that the European Union speed up adoption of a common airspace to improve its response to problems such as the volcanic ash cloud.

Spain calls for 'common' Europe airspace after ash crisis

Spain proposed on Friday that the European Union speed up adoption of a common airspace to improve its response to problems such as the volcanic ash cloud, which left millions of passengers stranded.

As the ash plume from Iceland stretched over Europe, countries facing notionally similar levels of risk to aircraft opened or closed their airspace in different ways and at different times.

At one point, most Dutch and French airspace was open, Germany was open for visual take-off and landing only, and Britain was entirely closed. Tens of thousands of flights were cancelled and millions of people have had their travel disrupted over the last nine days.

Spanish Transport Minister Jose Blanco said his country, which holds the rotating EU presidency, had invited EU transport ministers to meet on May 4 in Brussels to discuss new proposals.

He told reporters that Eurocontrol, a body that coordinates between national air traffic systems, should control European airspace. He also called for an emergency mobility plan to help stranded travellers return home when disasters strike.

"This week has shown the need to carry out a joint reflection on improving Europe's mechanisms in reacting to situations like this," Blanco said.

The International Air Transport Association estimates that the ash crisis has cost airlines more than $1.7 billion in lost revenues.

Blanco said he had discussed Spain's proposals with EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas and European counterparts, and had asked the European Commission to prepare a report.

Flight restrictions began to be lifted after EU transport ministers held talks to decide a common approach on Monday, three days after the ash eruption began, after manufacturers and scientists concluded that aircraft could safely fly through low concentrations of ash.


Reuters

Last Mod: 23 Nisan 2010, 15:06
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