Air travel disrupted by fresh volcano threats in Iceland and Papua New Guinea

 

Travel correspondent

The restless earth is once again toying with travel plans, as Iceland issued two more red alerts warning of an imminent eruption and a Papua New Guinea volcano disrupted southern-hemisphere aviation.

The day began with a warning from Eurocontrol in Brussels of an earthquake in central Iceland, and the subsequent closure of airspace up to 18,000 feet in the vicinity. It said: “A danger area, within which no flights are permitted, has been established around the volcano.” 

The threat level was raised from orange to red, then downgraded shortly afterwards. But by early afternoon, the Icelandic Met Office warned of “An earthquake of M5.2 [magnitude 5.2 on the Richter scale] occurred by the northern rim of the Bardarbunga caldera” and the red alert was reinstated. It means the an eruption is imminent or already in progress, and that a significant emission of ash is likely. 

Increased seismic activity has been taking place in the area around Bardarbunga for two weeks, with airlines concerned about a repeat of the 2010 eruption. Four years ago, volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajokull in the south of the country wrought aviation havoc in northern Europe. Flights were grounded for up to a week because of the risk of damage to aero engines.

 

The country’s Department for Civil Protection said: “The National Crisis Coordination Center is active and the Commissioner of the Icelandic Police has raised the Civil Protection Phase to Emergency Phase.” 

However, a statement from the national airline said: “Icelandair does not anticipate any flight disruptions at this stage due to this activity. We are closely monitoring the situation and will advise of any schedule changes should they occur.”

The UK’s biggest budget airline, easyJet, has been working on ash detection technology since the 2010 shutdown, which cost it tens of millions of pounds. An airline spokeswoman said: “Now that the Icelandic authorities have issued a red alert about the possible eruption near the Bardarbunga volcano easyJet is putting its contingency plans into action.” These include potential airborne deployment of the ash-detection technology it has pioneered.

South of the equator, a large cloud of ash from Papua New Guinea’s Tavurvur caused flights to and from Australia to divert around the eruption zone. Friday’s overnight Qantas service from Tokyo to Sydney flew an extra 100 miles in order to avoid the region.

On one of the busiest days of the year for aviation, thousands of UK passengers found their journeys disrupted. A six-hour strike by pilots working for the Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings halted flights from Heathrow to Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart. Hundreds of BA passengers found their Florida holiday extended when the airline cancelled a Friday night departure from Orlando to Gatwick because of technical problems with an earlier Boeing 777 transatlantic flight.

Volcano Q&A

Q If my flight is cancelled because of an ash cloud, will I get compensation?

No. The EU rules stipulating pay-outs for passengers whose flights are cancelled do not apply if the cause is beyond the airlines’ control, such as a volcanic eruption.

Q What obligation does the airline have?
It must provide meals and, if necessary, accommodation, until it can get you to your destination by the swiftest reasonable means. The obligation is open-ended.

Q Can I opt for a refund instead?

If a flight is delayed by five hours or more, or cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund. This will also cover the inbound trip, if you have booked a return ticket and decide not to travel. However, if you buy two separate tickets, e.g. outbound with BA and home with easyJet, then the inbound sector is not refundable if that flight goes ahead. 

Q I’ve paid for accommodation - can I claim that back if I can’t reach it?

If you have bought it as part of a package, then you can claim the overall cost. However, if it is booked separately then you do not have the right to a refund. Bluntly, the hotel or apartment owner will say: the room was here for you, the fact you couldn’t get here isn’t our problem.

Q Will I be covered by travel insurance?

That all depends on whether you bought a policy that covers disruption caused by volcanic ash. Many, particularly cheaper policies, do not. 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific