IATA blasts Europe again over volcanic crisis

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on European governments and air navigation service providers to urgently develop more precise procedures to identify ash contaminated air space and allow more flights. The call came in the wake of 1,000 flight cancellations on Monday (17 May) as a result of the continued volcanic eruptions in Iceland. […]


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on European governments and air navigation service providers to urgently develop more precise procedures to identify ash contaminated air space and allow more flights. The call came in the wake of 1,000 flight cancellations on Monday (17 May) as a result of the continued volcanic eruptions in Iceland.

“This problem is not going away any time soon. The current European-wide system to decide on airspace closures is not working. We welcome the operational refinements made by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in their theoretical model, but we are still basically relying on one-dimensional information to make decisions on a four-dimensional problem. The result is the unnecessary closure of airspace. Safety is always our number one priority. But we must make decisions based on facts, not on uncorroborated theoretical models,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s DG and CEO.

IATA is calling for a number of things, including more robust data collection and analysis, a change in the decision making process and urgency in addressing the issues.

Bisignani also noted some successful examples to follow: “France has been able to safely keep its airspace open by enhancing the VAAC data with operational expertise to more precisely determine safe fly zones. Today, the UK Civil Aviation, working with the UK NATS (the air navigation service provider), announced another step forward by working with airlines and manufacturers to more accurately define tolerance levels while taking into account special operational procedures. Both are examples for other European governments to follow,” he said.