London’s sky has been sunny and clear everyday this past week–for all British Airlines and travelers, perhaps frustratingly so. After the Icelandic volcano (that no one can even pronounce) erupted last week causing a cloud of ash to spread through the atmosphere, flights were banned in all British airspace and much of Northern Europe. The ash, if caught in a plane’s engine, would cause engine failure and possible destruction of the plane. So, as you can imagine, no airline was in a hurry to take off.
Over 95,000 flights were canceled across Europe last week, and over 150,000 UK citizens were stranded abroad, unable to catch their flights home. A man interviewed by the BBC yesterday said he paid a 1,250 pound cab fare for a taxi ride from Barcelona, Spain to Calais, France where he could then take a ferry home to Dover, England. Needless to say, this has been an economic mess. The current prime minister Gordon Brown sent three of Britain’s biggest battleships to pick up stranded British soldiers and tourists two days ago.
This flight crisis is costing London’s economy alone an excess of 50 million pounds per day, and to top off the chaos, Britain is in the middle of an election. Some of us Syracuse students were worried our flights back to America or other European destinations wouldn’t fly out. The Istanbul trip was canceled and most people didn’t make it to Munich for Beer Fest. This is a total scheduling nightmare for British schools who are teacher-less and student-less. Even walking down Oxford Street the other day I noticed there were less people jostling there way in and out of shops than usual.
According to the BBC, some flights began to land late last night but people should still check their flight status before traveling to the airport. As of now, no flights have taken off and only 24 flights have landed. The flight ban could be extended beyond Wednesday, and its looking like chances of leaving England this weekend are slim.