What do we know so far…? The ash cloud over Manchester Airport was not caused by the opening of Manchester City’s trophy cabinet. The offending volcano, ‘Grimsvotn’ may be a giant scrabble score but it also looks like being a pain in the butt to UK travellers leaving our airports this summer and that’s no joke.
Airlines and government now at least have some experience of the problem and with luck and a fair wind (hopefully pointing towards Norway and not Leeds/Bradford) the possible disruption should be kept to the absolute minimum with the blanket shutdowns seen last year unlikely to be repeated. Safety of course will be the overriding factor in the decision making process and will be made on a region by region basis.
Since last year, the CAA has graded ash levels as low, medium or high, and airlines are notified if levels reach medium or high. All British aircraft can fly in medium-density ash but the airlines need to consider whether to fly, according to risk assessments.
However disruption and delays can still occur even when your departure airport is seemingly unaffected as planes do get out of their regular flying patterns because they may start or finish their day at an airport that is affected.
If you have already booked, the advice is pretty much as you would expect, keep your eye on the news channels for the latest information, call your travel agent (that would hopefully be us) for advice from tour operators and airlines. Be prepared for a delay, make sure your travel insurance covers you for ashcloud related delay and/or cancellation, take your credit card or an additional ’emergency only’ cash fund.
If you haven’t booked yet and are thinking about travelling soon then there are alternatives you can condsider such as a ferry or the Eurostar both modes of transport are unaffected. But as long as the planes are operating this could be a window of opportunity for bargain hunters. If the usual scaremongering and sensational journalism prevails in a similar style to last year this could have the effect of deterring some travellers and then… hey presto! down come the prices to fill those empty seats. Proving the old travel adage -every ash cloud has a silver lining.