Plume of Ash Closes Scottish Airspace

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Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 64 total)

  • LindsayW

    Seems that only QF planes are stuck at LHR were the late night departures (747-400s VH-OJG and VH-OJS that were going to be QF10 and QF2 respectively, as a QF pilot on another BB advised that he flew QF32 (and both it and QF30 got out in time before the closure). Currently at Singapore are QF’s A380s VH-OQC and VH-OQE. Fleet details here: url= (see 18th April post near top).

    Hopefully the ash cloud will remain clear of Madrid and Rome so Thai can implement their plan of adding an extra daily flight BKK-FCO and extra 4 flights (for the week) BKK-MAD (ie 11x week to FCO, 7xweek to MAD). Albeit that this will create delays at those airports, but at least they have oprational bases there.


    Qantas has now cancelled flights up to and including the 21st. (with some ex-Asia flights still scheduled for the 21st). They have also extended the change waiver to include bookings up to the 30th April.

    Full details here: url=

    Full details on changes allowed, change fees and waivers here: url=

    Aer Lingus’s current position is here: url=

    BA’s latest position here: url=

    I’ve been keeping abreast of this, as my brother (and his girlfriend) flew Etihad SYD/AUH/DUB, arriving on 12th to attend a Conference. Most of the other conference delegates were scheduled to fly back to Australia on Saturday, 17th (so I presume they may be stuck there).

    Luckily my brother decided to take a couple of weeks holiday, so not flying back to LHR until 28th April and then LHR/AUH/BNE on 4 May, so hopefully things will be settled by then.

    Plus he’s lucky – girlfriend is a wholesale TA here in Australia, so she’ll be able to organise things at that end.


    I asked a QF 747 captain on another FF site:
    “My understanding is that when things do start flying normally, it’s good that QF have metal on the ground in LHR and SIN, so that means less (or no) positioning flights to get scheduling back to (relative) normality.”

    He replied:
    “This will be difficult to fix, no matter how you shuffle the deck. I presume those two aircraft will launch as soon as they get approval. Going the other way will take time. If London opened right now, it would still take a while to get things rolling. The aircraft and crews aren’t an issue, but you’d need to contact a huge number of passengers. I can’t see there being any empty positioning flights. So if an aircraft starts in Oz with a 100% load for the UK, that doesn’t help the people in Sin/Bkk/Lhr at all.

    Basically resolving this takes a huge amount of ‘spare’ capacity to be utilised. I don’t know that spare capacity actually exists in any amount. It will also require the UK slots to be removed/relaxed, and probably the removal of the curfew as well.

    We were trying to work it out last night (middle of the night at F410, we solve all the world’s problems). Perhaps if you pulled all of the 380s off the Pacific, and ran them as shuttles, to feed 330s and 744s (where?)…. That would give you an extra 400 seats per day, just using the normal flight slots. Which would take forever to resolve the issue. Even if you get a couple of cycles in per day, you still can’t generate that many extra seats.

    And, of course, the same problem applies to all of the airlines…. “

    to which another member NM replied:

    “Assume you mean operating the A380s as SIN-LHR-SIN and feeding them from SYD/MEL/BNE/PER/ADL with 744 and A330s. A creative option for sure.indeed a bigger problem for airlines that have lots of EU destinations. CX and SQ will have a nightmare but don’t have to contend with the multi-hop to EU destinations.

    I guess there will be lots of people whose travel plans will now be cancelled. Anyone heading to Europe for a week of business meetings may well no longer require to travel.


    Indeed. In SIN now there are people arriving from Australia / NZ on their way to Europe who have decided to give up and go back home. The airport (at least T3) was noticeably quieter this morning. Although there are large numbers of people still stuck here in limbo, presumably there are also now large numbers of people who can’t get here. Hotels situation is a nightmare though.

    SQ have just reinstated tonight’s flight to Barecelona but it will operate non-stop (usually it goes via Milan) and are also advertising the same flight tomorrow night. All other European flights are advertised as cancelled.

    I was told by an SQ manager that a LH flight took off last night but had to turn back.


    Not so good news from NATS, I think released about 9pm this evening (Monday):

    Since our last statement at 1530 today, the volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK. This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working.

    Latest information from the Met Office shows that the situation is worsening in some areas. Based on this information, the situation for Northern Irish airports for the morning is uncertain, due to the new ash cloud. The latest information shows that Scottish airports should be available from 0700 and more airspace over England may become available from 1300 although not as far south as the main London airports.

    We will continue to monitor Met Office information and the situation is likely to change overnight. We will make a further statement at approximately 0300 (local time), tomorrow, Tuesday 20 April and again at 0700.

    NATS is maintaining close dialogue with the Met Office and with the UK’s safety regulator, the CAA, in respect of the international civil aviation policy we follow in applying restrictions to use of airspace. We are currently awaiting CAA guidance.

    We are working closely with Government, airports and airlines, and airframe and aero engine manufacturers to get a better understanding of the effects of the ash cloud and to seek solutions.


    Tried to look for a webcam, but I’d imagine there’s a big load on any severs that have a webcam. Found a gallery of webcam captures though (every 10 mins):
    (the night time shots aren’t any use)


    Here in SFO with family. Flight cancelled last Thursday and rebooked for today. Managed to get on SFO-GLA last Friday but this turned back 2 hours into flight and we have been in hotel courtesy of BA since including $40 per adult and $20 per child meal allowance per day.

    This was initially for 3 days but extended to 5 which will take us through to Wednesday.

    Amex Platinum will pick up other costs up to £1200 as there are 4 of us, so that will help if BA stop providing.

    Amex were very helpful once they answered the phone and have responded to emails very quickly.

    Have checked in for todays BA284 but it is delayed till 1am. See from flight tracker LH/AF and KL have over 30 flights in the air now heading for Europe and I just hope that BA have not left it too late.

    Can’t fault BA for the hotels and food situation but is useless and the Your First Team have ignored all emails. I always knew they added little value but this experience has simply confirmed that they are totally superflous. It was such a minor request but the reassurance would have invaluable and the emails have just been ignored. Calling them has been fruitless also.

    Keeping everything crossed that we do leave at 1am and that we get in. News reports not encouraging but at least the BBC radio reports are not calling us refugees as the Fox network here has done several times.


    Binman62, best of luck riding it out in SFO. At least BA have come to the party on the accom and meals, even if their CS hasn’t been to expectation.

    jb747, the QF 744 pilot, has been musing on another FF website:

    “If London is to remain slot limited, then the only way to increase the number of people moved is to either remove the curfew, or to ban smaller aircraft. Or both. The little stuff can use Stansted, Luton, etc.

    Sort of amusing reading the comments from BA about their ‘test’ flight. I’m afraid that I don’t see that as having proved very much. I’m sure they chose a route that kept them away from the worst. Anyway, I’m a lot less worried about the effect on the engines than I am on the electronics and pitot systems.”

    Tom Otley


    BA Press Office

    Following the latest information from National Air Traffic Services about the path of the volcanic ash affecting UK airspace, we regret we will not be able to operate any shorthaul flights on Tuesday 20 April.

    We were planning to operate shorthaul flights scheduled to depart from 7pm, but these have now been cancelled.

    We are still hoping to operate longhaul flights which are scheduled to depart after 4pm on Tuesday 20 April, however this remains subject to the full and permanent opening of airspace.

    Customers should check their exact flight details on before departing for the airport.

    We realise this is disappointing for customers, however the circumstances are outside of all airlines’ control.

    Customers booked to travel on a cancelled flight can claim a full refund or rebook their flight for a later date.


    Many BA flights that are coming to LHR right now are making circles over ireland and England


    A large number of British Airways long haul aircraft that were expected to land at London Heathrow have diverted to Shannon because UK airspace has been closed.

    At least four BA aircraft have landed at the west of Ireland airport and a number of others are likely to do so.

    Shannon Airport has been kept open for two hours longer than scheduled this evening to facilitate the safe return of British Airways aircraft already en route to London Heathrow.

    The airport was scheduled to close at 1900, but is being kept open until 2100, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has said in a statement. British Airways is hoping to land 26 long haul flights at London Heathrow this evening and Shannon will provide an emergency alternative for the aircraft.

    Tweet message from BA:

    We’ve had 2 divert some flts which will land at a number of European cities, we remain hopeful we’ll b able to land others at LHR or LGW about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck


    And we’re off!

    Looks like all UK airspace restrictions should be dropped from 10pm tonight.

    Should allow some positioning flights to get home overnight and a few days of further disruption before the next ash cloud visits.


    It appears that the floodgates have now been opened. Whether that is the right decision or not, is yet to be determined!

    Reports on Australian TV this moning mention the first plane has landed at LHR just before 0700 Aust Eastern Standard Time.

    With the reports the Airspace is reopening, interesting that QF have already cancelled all flights to/from Europe for the next couple of days. That was an unlucky decision by them, but time will tell if the airports just close again or if the decision to open isn’t so good. Hopefully this means Qantas can have everything ready by the time flights are scheduled to resume though, everyone in the right place.

    Looks like a BA 777 was the flight reported to have landed at LHR.

    Edit: Seems to have landed at LGW not LHR as reported, going by Twitter reports..yet url= has it landed at LHR, take your pick ??


    So it seems as if our dear leaders have got it wrong again and the electorate and business have to pick up the pieces! At least its only six days this time compared to the swine ‘flu soap opera. Seems the more imense the beauraucracy the more incompetent the advice that emanates from its doors and the more the Eurocrats and politicians swallow it unquestioningly. Some useful facts at this link!,%20Radioactive%20Material%20and%20Toxic%20Chemical%20Clouds%20-%20Doc%209691%20-%20Draft%20incorporating%20Amend.%201.pdf


    I think we need to be careful in our criticism here. Its very easy to jump onto a populist bandwagon as Theresa Villiers, Shadow Transport Secretary, has done and condemn the “misjudgement and mismanagement” that has “badly let down” the travelling public ( This is very easy to say when you do not have the make the call. Given that this was uncharted territory and the technical advice was very clear, I am not sure that I would have wanted to be the one to override such advice and risk a disaster, however remote the possibility was.

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