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EU to open airspace corridors to ease transport chaos

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-04-19

EU transport ministers have agreed to open limited airspace corridors to ease the transport chaos caused by the volcanic ash cloud. Officials will later discuss the economic impact of the restrictions on the airline industry.

Have your travel plans been disrupted by the volcanic ash cloud? Are you stuck at the airport? Tell FRANCE 24 about your ordeal by posting your story below in the comment section.

Europe will ease air traffic restrictions by introducing a partial “no-fly zone” by 6:00am (GMT+2) on Tuesday, aviation control agency Eurocontrol said on Monday.

The move was announced following criticism from airlines who called for corridors for air travel to be established, rather than a blanket ban on flights in countries thought to be affected by ash from the Icelandic volcano.

The new harmonised system will allow some flights wherever safety is not compromised, Eurocontrol said.

“Accordingly a limited ‘no-fly zone’ will be established by the states concerned, based on forecasts from the VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre),” it said in a statement.

Airlines will be allowed to fly outside this zone and will receive data and advice from the scientific community.

Eurocontrol will provide forecasts every six hours.

The plan was approved by European Union transport ministers, the agency said.
It said that “in time, it should be possible to move towards an approach in which full discretion is given to aircraft operators,” but did not indicate when this might be.

Britain, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Switzerland have said their respective airspaces would gradually reopen from Tuesday. Romania has already fully reopened its airspace on Monday evening.

Air corridors between Paris and southern French cities

The French government also announced it would progressively reopen its airports from Monday while continuing to ask pilots to respect a no-fly zone in areas defined by EU aviation authorities.

France will reopen Lyon airport late Monday before opening air corridors for flights between Paris and southern French cities.

France said European transport ministers have agreed to divide the airspace into a no-fly zone defined by the Eurocontrol air traffic agency and "zones of precaution" in which traffic is regulated by national governments.

"French territory will be in these zones of precaution, which means that the reopening of all airports will be undertaken progressively," Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office said in a statement Monday.

It announced "a partial reopening of the airports north of the line between Nantes and Nice, which will allow a progressive return to normal traffic."

"Air corridors will open between Paris and airports in the south, notably Bordeaux-Paris, Marseille-Paris and Nice-Paris from 8:00 am on Tuesday (GMT+2)," the statement added.

FRANCE 24's Marc Perelman reports on the opening of air corridors between Paris and southern French cities.

"Airports south of this line, including Nantes, will remain open. Lyon airport will reopen tonight," it said.

French carrier Air France said it would operate a full slate of long-haul flights from Paris airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly on Tuesday, and overnight flights leaving for Paris on Monday will reach the French capital on Tuesday though with some delays.

Most domestic flights will operate normally from Paris and European flights from Charles de Gaulle will resume from 08:00am (GMT+2), the airline said in a statement.

Date created : 2010-04-19


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