Cathay Pacific

HK holds its breath in ash drama

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2011, 12:00am

The spread of volcanic ash from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano prompted airlines to call off more than 250 flights in northern Europe yesterday, but traffic between Hong Kong and London remained unaffected.

British Airways suspended flights from London to Scotland until 9pm Hong Kong time yesterday. Heathrow Airport saw about 38 arrivals and 16 departures to and from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow affected. Several flights to and from Norway were also disrupted.

Dutch airline KLM suspended six flights to Iceland whose main airport was reopened yesterday. China Southern Airlines adjusted the route of flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Amsterdam, and Shanghai to Frankfurt to avoid the volcanic ash. Cathay Pacific flights were not affected, but travellers were told to check connecting flights in Europe.

Hong Thai Travel Service's deputy general manager Daniel Chan Kin-pang has five tours in Europe this week, but said none of them had been affected so far. Last year's eruptions from another Icelandic volcano caused the agency to cancel five tours to Europe.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said eruptions from Grimsvotn had slowed. Its ash plume dropped from 20 kilometres to between three and five kilometres last night.

Last year's eruptions caused the cancellation of 100,000 flights, affecting 10 million passengers and cost the airline industry about US$1.7 billion. Airlines expect a smaller impact this time as winds are favourable for dispersing ash and there are guidelines allowing planes to fly around concentrations of ash.


was the last year that Grimsvotn erupted

- Grimsvotn lies under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland