The FINANCIAL — European Union transport ministers will hold an emergency teleconference on April 19 to discuss measures to counter the transport collapse caused by Iceland's volcano eruption, which has left thousands of passengers stranded , the Spanish EFE news agency has said.
According to RIA Novosti, the conference was initiated by Spain, which currently holds the EU rotating chair. Spanish transport and development minister Jose Blanco is reportedly going to discuss with his European colleagues alternative means of transport that could help resume passenger traffic in Europe.
Icelandic scientists said on Sunday the Eyjafjallajokull volcano had thrown out about 140 million cubic meters of ash over the past three days. A large ash cloud that has spread over Europe has forced many European countries to close airports due to flight safety concerns.
"This is not sustainable, we cannot go ahead and wait until the ash cloud will disappear," the European Commissioner for Transport, Siim Kallas, was quoted by German news agency DPA as saying.
The countries that have closed their air space are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Luxemburg, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and Serbia. Air traffic has also been closed in northern France, northern Italy and northern Norway, as well as most of Germany.
According to estimates, air companies have suffered loses of up to $150 million euros ($200 million) a day because of flight cancellations. Some of them have claimed that the volcanic ash cloud poses no safety threat to jet engines.