Flying ash hits PM travel plan

Singh to arrive this evening; volcanic residue in Iceland affects flights

Flying ash hits PM travel plan

Singh, who wrapped up his two-day visit to Brazil after attending two back-to-back India-Brazil-Russia Summit and Brazil-Russia-India-China Summit, left for India on Friday morning local time. He is expected to reach New Delhi on Saturday evening.

Passengers flying from India to Europe and West-bound cities continued to have a harrowing time as flights to these destinations were cancelled, suspended or rescheduled as airspace over several North European airports was closed.

In Bangalore, direct flights, particularly to European destinations were cancelled. As passengers were informed of the cancellations in advance, there was not much inconvenience caused.

Amongst those affected was External Affairs Minister S M Krishna who cancelled his trip to Poland to attend the funeral of president Lech Kaczynski, because of poor flying conditions in Europe.  Krishna was to leave New Delhi on Saturday and represent India at Sunday’s funeral. But the visit was called off because of major disruptions to air traffic.

Reports from Warsaw say the funeral itself may be postponed. Reports also suggest that Kaczynski’s family is keen that funeral be held on Sunday itself. Many dignitaries like US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are slated to attend the funeral.

Indefinite delay

While Jet Airways cancelled all flight to and from London, Brussels, Newark, New York and Toronto scheduled for Friday and announced an indefinite delay in flights between these destinations, Kingfisher flights from New Delhi to London and from London to New Delhi were cancelled.

Also, a flight from Mumbai to London and London to Mumbai were cancelled. Air India rescheduled its flights to London, Toronto and New York.  On Thursday, Kingfisher had cancelled all its flights to London from Mumbai and Delhi while Jet Airways cancelled two flights from the two Indian metropolises and one from London to Delhi.

Jet Airways said: “In case of cancellation/ rescheduling of guest travel plan, all penalties have been waived as a gesture of goodwill.” The British Air Traffic Control has prohibited aircraft from entering certain parts of airspace over the UK as flying ash compromised visibility and debris can be sucked into the engines of aircraft.

The drifting ash clouds also paralysed all the airports in Norway, Finland and Sweden as the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted on Wednesday again for a second time in less than a month.

The Delhi airport on Friday experienced ripple effect of the grounding of flights in Europe. Due to restrictions in the European airspace, many of the Europe-bound flights could not take off for their return journey. This led to a shortage of parking bays at the airport for incoming aircraft. To manage the situation and reduce inconvenience to passengers, DIAL and ATC officials diverted incoming cargo flights to other airports.

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