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Cloud of uncertainty

Are European airports still closed?

The travel chaos deepened on Friday as the high-altitude plume of volcanic ash spread farther across northern and central Europe. Most of Europe's major airports were closed, although some airports in Western Europe began to ease restrictions as the volcanic cloud moved east. Though that's when Czech, Polish and other Eastern Europe airspace began to close.

When will flights get back to normal?

Aviation authorities said normal air traffic conditions would not resume until today at the earliest. Brian Flynn, deputy head of Eurocontrol, the agency responsible for coordinating air traffic across the region, said that because the cloud has been moving slowly "it is reasonable to assume" that there would be continued significant disruption today. Normal service will take days to resume.

How many flights have been affected?

Eurocontrol said about 16,000 of Europe's usual 28,000 daily flights were canceled Friday — twice as many as were canceled a day earlier. About 120 trans-Atlantic flights reached European airports compared with 300 on a normal day, and about 60 flights between Asia and Europe were canceled. One estimate said the volcano was costing the industry at least $200 million a day.

Is the volcano still erupting?

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano continued to spew ash on Friday. Jennie Gilbert, a professor at the University of Lancaster in England who has studied Icelandic volcanoes, said: "I don't think there's any general feeling for how this volcano will operate. My best guess is that it will be explosive for a few days and then might continue at a reduced level." In 1821, the same volcano erupted for over a year.

Cloud of uncertainty 04/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 16, 2010 9:26pm]
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