European aviation officials predicted Monday night that air travel was likely to return to normal by Thursday, provided Iceland’s volcano doesn’t launch into a new and more violent eruption. Airlines were preparing to get back to work.
European airlines have been complaining loudly in recent days that the near total shutdown of air space and airports hasn’t been necessary. While they claim they also set “safety first,” they no longer buy official arguments that Iceland’s volcanic cloud is dangerous enough to ground all flights.
On Monday, European officials agreed to be more flexible and change some of their regulations while maintaining passenger safety. The result is that more airports air space will re-open pending any major new volcanic clouds blowing in from Iceland.
Lufthansa, which cooperates with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and has a major presence in Norway, led the protests and ran test flights that it contended proved a lack of imminent danger in the skies. In Norway, discount carrier Norwegian Air led the charge, with its president calling the air travel shutdown “meaningless” on national TV Monday evening.
Disruptions are likely to continue, though, as meteorologists warn of more volcanic ash and debris that could clog aircraft engines and close air space once again. But Iceland’s volcano seemed to calm down on Monday, and meteorologists in Iceland believed Norway would be “ash free” within a few days.
Airports remained open in Norway at least until midnight on Monday, and airlines were planning to resume flight schedules on Tuesday.