More Flight Cancellations in May Due to Volcano

More Flight Cancellations in May Due to Volcano
For the third time this year, the ash spewing from the Icelandic volcano (that nobody knows how to pronounce) is closing major European airports. Heathrow and Gatwick were reported closed in the early morning hours on Monday, and although re-opened, major cancellations and delays are expected due to those closures.

New reports including those from The Telegraph say there is a no-fly zone created by British aviation authorities that includes Birmingham and Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Wales, Edinburgh, Inverness, and northern Scotland. Restrictions at Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds Bradford airports have been lifted, but major delays at all airports even once resuming service is expected.

Across the way, Dublin's international airport closed Sunday and the New York Times is reporting that several airports on Ireland's west were closed with time for reopening scheduled throughout the day at what seems to be an unpredictable rate. However, Shannon and southern Cork were still open until furhter notice.

As frustrating as these delays may be, please remain patient. These closures are to ensure safety. Besides the lack of visibility, volcanic ash can clog the engines used to propel airplanes. Therefore, these delays since the April 14th, 2010 eruption will likely continue to cause delay intermittently since it’s not just the spewing of ash that causes the problem, but the unpredictable nature of the winds that carry it.

Furthermore, the New York Times reports that the last time this Icelandic volcano spoke up in 1821, it continued to make noise for 2 years. Not what those of you with regular business in Europe wanted to hear, but wouldn’t you rather be prepared to handle the annoyances?

The bottom line is, have a contingency plan while you are on the road this summer. Sometimes it makes business travel easier if you have tenative alternate plans a few days before your trip, and after. For outbound travel that is affected, always keep your colleagues and clients apprised of your plans. At the first sign of trouble, communicate.

Delays due to volcanic ash once was novel, twice was not unexpected, but still annoying. Now, when will it end? Who’s to say? Well, Mother Nature of course, but she doesn’t have a clear way of forewarning humans. Try a different approach. Make plans.

If you find yourself in Europe and delayed on your departure, prepare colleagues and clients to spend a few more days with you if possible. Or, and preferably, design a contingency plan that will allow you to use those delays to plan a last minute side trip. Staying cooped up in the airport waiting for the air to clear may make you feel like you are doing all you can, but you may be missing an opportunity.

Stay in touch with your airlines. See when you can be re-booked, but if it’s not looking good, set up a tour in the city where you are stranded. Take a taxi to the closest town and enjoy lunch or dinner. At airports like Heathrow or Charles de Galle there are tours that will collect you at the airport and drive you in to the city to see the most popular sites. These can last anywhere from 2 - 4 hours.

Be creative. Plan ahead, just in case. Enjoy the opportunities that travel delays can bring you.

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