The FINANCIAL — European airlines are pressing national aviation authorities to ease a flight ban over the spread of ash from a volcano in Iceland as losses mount and passengers remain stranded, according to RIA Novosti.
The eruption on the Eyjafjallajokull Glacier in Iceland, which began on April 14, has disabled air traffic throughout central and northern Europe, leaving thousands of travelers stranded and forcing more than 20 European countries to close their airspace.
"With over 63,000 flights cancelled since Thursday, many millions of passengers affected so far and a devastating impact for the aviation industry, the consequences are now expanding to the wider economy given the reliance of businesses on aviation," the Association of European Airlines (AEA), which brings together 36 major air carriers, said in a statement.
According to expert estimates, air companies have suffered losses of up to $150 million euros ($200 million) a day because of flight cancellations.
"While Europe's airlines and airports consider safety to be an absolute priority, they are questioning the proportionality of the flight restrictions currently imposed," the statement said.
Meanwhile, European transport ministers will hold an emergency teleconference on Monday to review the results of the test flights and decide whether to reopen airspace over Europe.
About 50% of normal flights over Europe may be able to operate on April 19 as weather forecasts predict the ash cloud will be dispelled by wind over part of the continent.