Airlines adopt new ash rules

AIRLINES breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) overhauled ash restriction regulations, allowing a return to regular operations.

The CAA had been under intense pressure from a number of commercial airlines over continual flight bans issued over UK airspace as a result of the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

As of midday yesterday, airlines wishing to operate in the new “Time Limited Zone” will now have to present the CAA with a report, which requires approval from engine manufacturers, demonstrating that aircraft are secure enough to fly through airspace that could be affected by ash.

The CAA said that Flybe was the first airline to achieve this and was yesterday given the green light to resume full services.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “I’m pleased that the huge efforts we’re all making across aviation to keep flying safe whilst minimising the disruption from the volcano have resulted in further progress. Unprecedented situations require new measures and the challenge faced should not be underestimated.”

The move by the CAA has been widely welcomed by the airline industry, which collectively suffered a £1.1bn loss in revenue during the six-day flight ban last month, which stranded thousands of passengers.

British Airways (BA) chief executive Willie Walsh was a key supporter of a push to give commercial liners more power when deciding whether it was safe enough to fly and said that the “airline industry already has a great deal of experience in dealing safely with the potential risk posed by volcanic ash”.

Budget airline easyjet said: “[We] welcome this announcement and support the initiative. The CAA has been pivotal in facilitating this improvement whilst maintaining the focus on passenger safety.”