Flights around and into Europe may not resume for a number of days due to the cloud of volcanic ash currently covering much of the continent, costing airlines millions of dollars and leading to further chaos at hub airports elsewhere.
A number of airlines from around the world have continued to cancel flights over the weekend, with Emirates estimating that the closure of European airspace is costing it US$10m (A$10.8m) a day, although it is still operating flights to some destinations, such as Athens, Moscow and Istanbul.
Qantas has also cancelled all of its services to London and Europe, and is also advising passengers travelling through Singapore and Bangkok to Europe to not travel to those centres, as a lack of available hotels is leading to overcrowding in airport terminals.
Cathay Pacific has also advised that it has cancelled or delayed flights from Hong Kong to London, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam, although flights to Rome and Milan continue to operate normally.
A number of airlines have undertaken test flights to determine when it may be safe for aircraft to return to the skies. Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation director general Graham Lake welcomed the flights. “The flights will help to assess the situation. But it is important to remember that this is a Europe-wide issue – a successful test flight in one country does not mean that the airspace system can be opened up immediately. These flights are a useful canary in the coal mine but we must remember that the airspace and weather is dynamic and changing hour-by-hour,” he said.