Iceland’s volcanic ash still looms over northern Europe, but hope was raised today when more flights gradually took off from major European airports. While flights to and from London are still unavailable, limited flights are operating from Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, central Europe, and Scandanavia. Today, the first flights from Charles de Gaulle took off for New York’s JFK International Airport.
Eurocontrol in Brussels expects 50-60 percent of scheduled flights over Europe to run smoothly today. Approximately 10,000 out of an anticipated 27,000 have already taken off.
Lufthansa carried 15,000 passengers at low altitudes, and Japan Airlines was able to arrive in Tokyo from Europe for the first time today, according to USA Today.
The plume is still a danger to planes, and the volcano is continuing to erupt, but the situation has improved, and some airlines were able to successfully test flights this weekend. As the north winds push over the UK, some of the ash is also moving towards Greenland and Canada, so wind directions will be watched carefully in the immediate future to determine safe flight corridors. Currently, the cloud is lower than 1.8 miles.
The European Union has begun classifying regions of the continent into three areas. No-fly zones are spaces with severe ash disruption, caution zones are areas with some contamination, where some flights can navigate as long as their engines are regularly checked , and the third area is where flights can operate freely.