Travel chaos continues in Europe

Hundreds of thousands of travelers remain stranded for a third day as flights stay canceled across northern Europe. Ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland continues to blow eastward and numerous countries have limited flights or have closed their airspace entirely.

The following countries have no flights operating: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

These countries have limited service with severe delays and numerous cancellations: Belarus, Croatia, France, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, and Serbia.

Questions are arising about how this is going to affect an already struggling airline industry. Some sources are estimating that the airlines are losing $200 million a day, with several companies already talking about laying off employees or putting them on unpaid leave. There has been no public discussion of reducing executive bonuses.

The Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in southern Iceland is still spewing out ash, although Icelandic vulcanologists are saying at a lower rate. Clouds of ash are hazardous to jets because they can make their engines stall, as happened with two flights in the 1980s.

Ferries and trains such as the Eurostar are reporting record ticket sales as people look for other modes of transport.

As I mentioned in the post about delays on Friday, my wife Almudena, who took many of the best photos in my Ethiopia travel series, is trapped in the UK. Her story is typical of countless other travelers. On Friday, British Airways told her they had rescheduled her flight for Saturday morning, but a few hours later the flight was canceled. UK airspace is now closed until at least 1 am local time Sunday. So at the moment I’m a single dad, she’s given up hope of getting to her meeting in Toronto and went to visit friends in Oxford, and our son is drawing pictures of mom flying over an erupting volcano. I have a feeling a lot of European kids are drawing pictures like that right now.