Current Affairs Flights resume as Czech authorities reopen country’s airspace
Czech authorities have reopened the country’s airspace three days after all air travel to and from the Czech Republic was grounded; like most of Europe, flights in the country were affected by the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland. The decision to reopen Czech airspace and the country’s international airports is however only temporary and will be subject to revision in 48 hours.
Like most of the European continent, air travel in the Czech Republic was paralyzed because of the threatening ash cloud from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajoekull volcano. On Friday and over the weekend, blue skies over Prague were quiet - that should gradually now change. Noon on Monday saw the first flight take off from Prague’s international airport Ruzyně, headed for Egypt, with another four following, including one to Greece. Carriers and no doubt travelers are hoping for a return to normal, as similar decisions are taken across the continent, but it will still take time as countries lift their ban on flights, international airports reopen, and carriers resume operations. Richard Klíma is the spokesman for Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic.
“Similar decisions will be taken, if they haven’t been already, in other countries in the European Union. All moves will be made in harmony, through teleconferences, with Eurocontrol – the EU’s organization for safety of air navigation.”
The decision taken by the Czech authorities, it should be noted, affects only the next 48 hours, presumably facing revision depending on further developments: namely whether there is a further threat from volcanic activity and volcanic ash. The ash, which contains extremely fine mineral particles threatening plane engines and posing a serious safety risk, could still present problems. Nevertheless, the AFP news agency on Monday reported that flights within Europe could soon resume to at least half their normal level of around 24,000 flights per day. In all 20 countries were affected since last Wednesday, and the grounding of flights across most of Europe saw airlines suffer losses of around 200 million US dollars per day. In the Czech Republic, the grounding of all flights, like elsewhere, meant a major boost for other means of transport as stranded tourists scrambled for alternatives.
On Monday the public broadcaster Czech TV reported that train routes to destinations such as Vienna, Munich, Berlin – which had been boosted – would now slowly be scaled back down to normal, with the one exception of Moscow, where additional trains will head until early Thursday.