Europe's main associations of airports and airlines called on Sunday for a reassessment of the flight restrictions that have closed much of European airspace in past days because of the risks posed by a volcanic cloud from Iceland.
REUTERS - The main associations of European airports and airlines called on Sunday for a reassessment of restrictions that have closed much of European airspace due to the volcanic cloud from Iceland.
"While Europe's airlines and airports consider safety to be an absolute priority, they are questioning the proportionality of the flight restrictions currently imposed," ACI Europe and the Association of European Airlines (AEA) said in a statement.
"The eruption of the Icelandic volcano is not an unprecedented event and the procedures applied in other parts of the world for volcanic eruptions do not appear to require the kind of restrictions that are presently being imposed in Europe," the statement said.
AEA Secretary-General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus said verification flights undertaken by several airlines had "revealed no irregularities at all".
"This confirms our requirement that other options should be deployed to determine genuine risk. For example, the FAA has a world-established process of identifying clear no-fly zones," he said referring to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
"Airlines must be able to fly where it is safe to fly and make decisions accordingly. It is what our passengers demand of us."
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said that with 313 airports paralysed, the impact was already worse than from the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001.
He said more than 6.8 million passengers had been affected and European airports had lost close to 136 million euros ($190.1 million).
"Many thousands of passengers are still stuck at airports because of this situation. While safety remains a non-negotiable priority, it is not incompatible with our legitimate request to reconsider the present restrictions," he said.
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