Are the Germans and Dutch thinking about going off the reservation in the response to the volcanic ash situation, which so far has been largely dictated by NATS, the for-profit British company that controls air space into and out of the UK?
(The NATS Web site is, astonishingly, still offline. Just as astonishingly, the company blames "heavy Web traffic" for not being able to keep its Web site up in a national emergency!)
Obviously, volcanic ash is a very serious flight concern, but I'm picking up grumbling here and there, including from Lufthansa, that just maybe the Brits may have overreacted in shutting the whole system down and keeping it shut for days. There is no indication of when flights in Europe might resume, as the Iceland volcano keeps erupting.
Today, Lufthansa flew 10 airliners (without passengers) from Munich to Frankfurt at altitudes between 10,000 and 26,000 feet. The planes were undamaged, Lufthansa said.
KLM also flew test flights at various altitudes without incident.
On Lufthansa's Web site, the following statement appears. Do I detect a note of pique in the first sentence? (italics are mine):
"Like all other airlines, Lufthansa must comply with directives issued by ministries and air traffic control. Many European airports have closed. In Germany, the airports in Berlin, Bremen, Cologne, Dortmund, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Hof, Leipzig, Munich, Muenster/Osnabrueck, Nuremberg and Stuttgart have shut down. All arrivals at and departures from these airports have been canceled until further notice.
Lufthansa has canceled all flights worldwide scheduled until Sunday, April 18th, 1800 UTC (8pm local German time). Passengers whose flights have been canceled are kindly asked not to travel to the airport."
Stand by as Euro-politics, rivalries, old resentments and economics enter the picture!