Sunday, May 16, 2010

Much of UK Airspace Closes Again, Including Heathrow and Gatwick; Another BA Strike Looms This Week

[UPDATE 4.25 pm PDT: Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports are closing at 1 a.m. local time on Monday, and will remain shut at least till 7 a.m. Stansted and Luton remained open. Manchester and Birmingham reopened. Schiphol Amsterdam is closed till at least 2 p.m. Monday.]

The latest no-fly zone created by volcanic ash from Iceland was extended from Northern Ireland to the west coast of England and into Scotland today. According to the London Times today, airports in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford, East Midlands and Glasgow-Prestwick "have all been forced to close." [UPDATE: As noted above, Manchester later reopened while Heathrow, Gatwick and London City closed].

These new developments come as British Airways faces a five-day strike this week by flight attendants, who have said they will be off the job starting Tuesday. The strike action plans for four separate increments of five-day-long strikes starting Tuesday.

Here's the British Airways customer notice on the expected strike disruptions.

As to the new airspace closings, Richard Branson, for one, is hopping mad at what he sees as another overreaction by the privatized companies that operate British airspace and national weather services. Branson, the Virgin Atlantic president and founder, said that closing Manchester was "beyond a joke," and that there was no evidence that aircraft could not continue to fly safely, according to British news reports.

Who knows? But have a look at the current NATS bulletin to see how private corporations can blithely obfuscate information that the public needs. I thought these people spoke English.


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