Ryanair questions Scottish airspace closure

24 May 2011 by BusinessTraveller

The carrier says it “strongly objected to the decision to close Scottish airspace earlier this week “, having undertaken a “verification flight” which it says showed “no evidence of volcanic ash on the airframe, wings or engines”.

The carrier cancelled flights to and Glasgow Prestwick, Edinburgh and Aberdeen on Tuesday May 24, and in a statement Ryanair said:

“Following a direction from the Irish Aviation Authority Ryanair regrets that we have been forced to cancel all flights to/from Scottish Airports for the remainder of the day (24 May). 

"Despite Glasgow Prestwick and Edinburgh Airports being outside the ‘red zone’ on the most recent UK Met Office charts the UK Civil Authority (CAA) have decided that these charts are wrong and have closed the airspace. 

"Earlier today Ryanair confirmed that it operated a one hour verification flight up to 41,000 feet in Scottish airspace this morning (24th May). The aircraft took off from Glasgow Prestwick, flew to Inverness, on to Aberdeen and down to Edinburgh - all of which according to the UK Met Office charts were in the “red zone” of “high ash concentration”. 

"During the flight there was no visible volcanic ash cloud or any other presence of volcanic ash and the post flight inspection revealed no evidence of volcanic ash on the airframe, wings or engines. The absence of any volcanic ash in the atmosphere supports Ryanair’s stated view that there is no safety threat to aircraft in this mythical “red zone” which is another misguided invention by the UK Met. Office and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 

"Ryanair has also received written confirmation from both its airframe and engine manufacturers that it is safe to operate in these so called “red zones” and, in any event, Ryanair’s verification flight this morning confirms that the “red zone” over Scotland is non-existent. 

"Ryanair has renewed its calls on both the UK CAA and the IAA to reopen the airspace over Scotland and allow airlines to operate flights safely following the verification flight."

However according to a report on the BBC website, a spokesperson from the CAA said that "The CAA can confirm that at no time did a Ryanair flight enter the notified area of high contamination ash over Scotland this morning."

As of Wednesday morning (May 25), the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said that "There is currently no impact from volcanic ash on UK airspace".

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