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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea