Passport

Ryanair vs. the volcano

The ash cloud from Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano has caused flight cancellations in Northern Ireland and Scotland, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of travellers including President Barack Obama. But, not surprisingly, European discout carrier Ryanair isn’t having it: Ryanair said it had completed a one-hour ”verification flight” up to 41,000ft in Scottish airspace this morning. ...

GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images
GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

The ash cloud from Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano has caused flight cancellations in Northern Ireland and Scotland, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of travellers including President Barack Obama. But, not surprisingly, European discout carrier Ryanair isn’t having it:

Ryanair said it had completed a one-hour ”verification flight” up to 41,000ft in Scottish airspace this morning.

The aircraft took off from Glasgow Prestwick, flew to Inverness, on to Aberdeen and down to Edinburgh.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the airline said: ”There was no visible volcanic ash cloud or any other presence of volcanic ash and the post-flight inspection revealed no evidence of volcanic ash on the airframe, wings or engines.

”The absence of any volcanic ash in the atmosphere supports Ryanair’s stated view that there is no safety threat to aircraft in this mythical ‘red zone’, which is another misguided invention by the UK Met Office and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).

”Ryanair has also received written confirmation from both its airframe and engine manufacturers that it is safe to operate in these so-called ‘red zones’ and, in any event, Ryanair’s verification flight this morning also confirms that the ‘red zone’ over Scotland is non-existent.”

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has said the flight ban is based on "duff information."

I won’t claim any expertise on this and the Met Office may indeed by overly cautious in this case, but for whatever it’s worth, a study this year by scientists from the University of Iceland and the University of Copenhagen did conclude that ash particles would pose a significant threat to airlines. And this isn’t purely theoretical: Ash from Mount Redoubt in the Aleutian islands nearly took down a KLM flight in 1989. 

I’m also not quite sure that I trust safety claims from an airline company that sees co-pilots as an "unnecessary" expense.  

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola