Asian airlines monitor Europe ash cloud

Asian airlines monitor Europe ash cloud

Hong Kong: Airlines in Asia said Wednesday they were monitoring volcanic ash over Europe that was expected to cause the axing of 700 flights across Germany, with some altering their routes to evade the cloud.

But most Asia-Pacific carriers said they not cancelled flights to Europe so far.

Air China has suspended services to Stockholm but said its other European routes were operating normally as the cloud drifted from an Icelandic volcano, while Japan’s ANA moved some European flight paths slightly south.

India’s Kingfisher airlines said that it was operating all four of its flights from Mumbai and New Delhi to London Heathrow on Wednesday.

But the company said the flights had been “re-routed on a more southerly route into and out of London Heathrow airport so as to steer clear of any airspace that may potentially be impacted by drifting volcanic ash".

Air India, which flies to a number of destinations in northern Europe including London, Paris, Frankfurt and Munich, said its schedule was unaffected by the ash cloud.

China Southern also said it was changing some routes, but flights from Asia were largely spared the disruption affecting travellers in Europe.

Carriers including Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines said they were monitoring the progress of the cloud, which is expected also to affect Poland and Scandinavian countries.

Australia’s Qantas said its Europe-bound flights were operating as normal, as did Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X, also Malaysian.

Beijing’s Capital Airport said the impact of the volcano on air travel would be “limited".

The eruption of the Grimsvoetn volcano ceased early Wednesday but geologists warned it could not yet be declared over, while the ash cloud swept across the North Sea towards German airspace after passing over Britain.

The cloud is the second from an Icelandic volcano in barely a year to disrupt European air traffic and air traffic controllers said 700 flights were expected to be cancelled across Germany alone on Wednesday.

Many airlines, which suffered financially from last year’s shutdown, say national authorities are exaggerating the danger posed by the cloud.