Volcanic clouds: Indian carriers say flights not affected

Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher said that their flights were flying on schedule but they had directed their pilots to ensure that aircraft carry extra fuel while flying to Europe or North America in case they have to divert due to the clouds.

"We are closely monitoring the situation almost every few hours. We have asked the pilots (to ensure that planes) flying to Europe or North America to carry extra fuel in case of any diversion", an Air India official said.

Same was the response of his counterparts from Kingfisher and Jet Airways, with all of them saying there has been no impact of the ash clouds on their flights as yet.

An Air India spokesperson in London said the London- Mumbai flight (AI 130) left on schedule this morning while two flights (AI 116 and AI 112) for Delhi were on schedule.

All Air India flights from London were operating from Heathrow terminal four instead of three.

The three Indian carriers have been asked by the Civil Aviation Ministry to draw up alternative route plans to and from North America over the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and also to Western Europe, official sources said.

The airlines and the Indian authorities have sought permission for technical halts to pick up and drop passengers from Athens, Rome, Cairo and airports in unaffected European cities, they said.

Over 1,000 flights, mostly in the UK, Germany and Ireland, have been cancelled in the past two days due to the volcanic eruption in Grimsvoetn and the ash clouds getting blown over to Scotland and other parts of northern Europe.

Reports from London quoting authorities and experts said that activity at the Grimsvoetn volcano has stopped and its flight-halting ash plume has almost disappeared.

Even though some quarters described the flight cancellations as "a massive over reaction by badly prepared safety regulators", there has been no blanket ban on flights as was imposed during eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano in April last year that left millions stranded.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that the "mismanagement" of 2010 volcanic ash crisis had cost airlines USD 1.8 billion in lost revenues and cost the global economy as a whole USD five billion.

Meanwhile, BBC reported that air traffic over northern Germany is returning to normal after being disrupted by volcanic ash.

Planes were again taking off and landing in Hamburg and Bremen after they were closed for several hours. Berlin airports were to reopen later, it reported, adding about 700 flights were cancelled in Germany today.

Airlines, including British Airways, had to axe some German services as the ash clouds moved over northern Europe.

British Airways had cancelled one London-Hamburg and two Hamburg-London flights and budget carrier easyJet also axed some German flights.

Yesterday, airlines grounded about 500 flights after ash from the Icelandic volcano swept over Britain and towards northern Europe.

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