Grimsvotn, a volcano in southeast Iceland, is the second volcano in as many years to create chaos in the European aviation industry, following on from the antics of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010. Grimsvotn, believed to be the most active of all the volcanoes in Iceland, caused more than 500 flight cancellations in Germany, Scotland, and Northern England, between May 23 and 25 2011.
Newcastle Airport, one of several UK mainland hubs affected by Grimsvotn’s tantrums, was forced to suspend flights to Heathrow Airport, Amsterdam in Holland, and Paris in France, on May 25. The development marked the second time in two days that flights had been cancelled, amid fears that the concentration of volcanic ash in the atmosphere could clog or erode jet engines.
Barra and Tiree airports in the Hebrides, Cumbernauld Airport in Glasgow, and Carlisle Airport in Cumbria, also endured extensive delays, while Durham, Edinburgh, Prestwick, Aberdeen, and Glasgow airports were forced to withdraw flights to a variety of destinations, including domestic routes to the south of England.
Metro, a free newspaper, indicates that British Airways and easyJet were among the airlines that suffered disruption last week. Planes arriving from the continent, or indeed, anywhere south of Carlisle, were redirected to airports with clearer skies, such as Doncaster’s Robin Hood. The Yorkshire hub “gained some aircraft” from Scotland and Newcastle, in order to meet the increased demand for flights.
A spokesperson for Newcastle Airport indicated that normal operations had resumed by the afternoon of May 25. However, delays during the previous day had caused a “hangover” for the hub, with “aircraft in the wrong places”, and departures occurring in a “more complicated fashion”.
Experts had voiced concerns that volcanic ash could return to the skies above the UK on May 27, potentially causing havoc over the bank holiday weekend. However, the eruption of Grimsvotn continued to subside, and was officially declared “finished” by the Icelandic Meteorological Office on the morning of May 28. The remaining ash was blown into the Arctic by strong southwesterly winds.
Newcastle Airport is currently operating as normal, but travellers with concerns about their flight should contact their travel agent or airline before departing for the airport.