European flights grounded due to Icelandic volcano

The massive eruption of a volcano in Iceland may be turning into a local tourist attraction, but it’s seriously hurting the travel industry. Ash from the volcano is heading for the skies over the UK and Scandinavia and has caused most flights in the UK to be grounded.

The thick, gritty ash can damage engines, causing them to jam, so all airports in Scotland are closed, as are numerous airports in England, including Heathrow. Ireland’s airports are also reporting widespread delays and cancellations.

Other airports in Northern Europe are also closing or experiencing heavy cancellations, including in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

Twice in the 1980s airplanes flying through clouds of volcanic ash had their engines seize up. Both times the pilots were able to steer away from the clouds and restart the engines, but needless to say aviation officials don’t want to risk another incident.

Since the volcano is still churning out so much ash that it can be seen from space, as this NASA image shows, it is unclear how long the delays will last. If you are flying to, from, or around Europe over the next few days, call your airline for the latest updates. We’ll keep you posted here at Gadling too.