Monday, April 19, 2010

EU to resume limited air traffic Tuesday

BRUSSELS – European officials carved up the sky Monday, creating three zones to more quickly break the flight deadlock caused by volcanic ash flowing from Iceland over Europe. Many more flights will be able to take off on Tuesday, the bloc said.

European countries can resume airline traffic in designated "caution zones" where the threat of ash is considered less dangerous, French officials said after a meeting of the bloc's 27 transport ministers.

Under the accord, one area — defined by the European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol — will remain entirely off limits to flights. Another area will be open to all flights and a third area will be a caution zone in which some flights will be allowed.

Jean-Louis Borloo, the No. 2 French Cabinet official, said flights in the caution zone will be "very secure" with many tests to make sure jet engines are not damaged by ash.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said after a videoconference with EU transport ministers and industry officials that "the decision increases air space available to air traffic. This is the final outcome."
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