Friday 23 March 2018

Flights backlog will lead to three more days of disruption

Shane Hickey

AIR passengers face up to three days of further disruption as carriers try and clear the massive backlog in flights caused by the ash cloud.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus were yesterday preparing additional services to deal with the problems that have left thousands of people grounded since the crisis began. As business resumed at Dublin Airport yesterday, Aer Lingus and Ryanair said they would operate normal services today, including Ryanair flights between Ireland and the UK which didn't fly yesterday as they attempted to clear the backlog of passengers in Europe.

Met Eireann said the forecast showed the volcanic ash plume would move away from Irish airspace over the next three to four days. The indications were that no new ash would enter Irish skies and that old ash deposits would drift away.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) strongly defended the drastic action taken which resulted in no flights taking off for almost a week.

Spokesman Denis Daly, said it was the "appropriate action to take at the time" as safety was a priority.

"At the time, the decision taken to ground was the correct decision to take. Nobody was served taking a risk where safety is paramount," he said.

He said there was a new safety regulatory insight inspection regime as a result of the tests carried out over four days, with the engine manufacturers and maintenance organisations reviewing those results.

The new regime involving the industry and the regulatory authorities now "takes into account the tolerances of the different engines. On that basis European aerospace has opened up," he added.

Mr Daly pointed out that some 'no-fly' zones, such as that around Sweden, remained in place.

Yesterday marked the eighth meeting of the Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning on the volcanic ash cloud issue.

Assistant secretary at the Department of Transport Maurice Mullen said it would take between two and three days to deal with the backlog of flights.

"The airline companies are moving as fast as they can to get back into full service. We know Ryanair and Aer Lingus are putting on additional services."

Mr Mullen said there was "no doubt" the authorities reacted properly in shutting air space and lessons had been learned.

Irish Independent

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