Friday, May 14, 2010

Volcanic Ash Worries Continue For Air Freight Traffic

Rates May be Affected if Problems Continue
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – With a continuation of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and advice from the Icelandic Meteorological Office that no end is in sight, we hear today that the ash cloud persists reaching heights of around 18,000 feet. Latest weather reports indicate North and North East winds which mean the continuing stream of detritus will probably stay over the Atlantic Ocean close to the western shores of the UK.

Recently the drift has been across parts of central and southern Europe disrupting cargo (and passenger) flights to and from North Africa and the Spanish peninsula. A new engine criteria, set by the Civil Aviation Authority in partnership with aviation industry representatives, together with advice from all quarters, decides when and where conditions permit transit by air with the CAA having the final say.

The concern for airlines now is the constant uncertainty which plays havoc with scheduling and some are openly voicing the necessity to adjust freight rates as diversionary routes continue to become necessary. With transatlantic flights having to update accessible channels upon advice from National Air Traffic Services (NATS) who in turn rely on Met Office data, and flights having to be cancelled or postponed without any prospect of an end to the situation, it can only be a matter of time before tariffs begin to reflect the new situation.

Pic: Today’s map update indicating current eruption scatter pattern and fading drift.