New Delhi: With the Icelandic ash crisis showing first signs of fading the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed its pleasure at the improved coordination displayed by European authorities in managing its airspace.
The Grimsvotn volcanic eruption this year led to renewed fears that there would be a repeat of last year's story when arbitrary decision-making and knee-jerk reactions across the European continent by aviation regulators and political decision-makers led to a virtual shutdown of the airline industry, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded across the continent and airlines deep in red from accumulated losses.
With a fresh plume of volcanic ash headed for the continent, IATA has cautioned that the absence of a formal agreement at the political level to respond in a coordinated and harmonized manner was likely to leave passengers and shippers vulnerable to fragmented decision-making.
''Safety is always our top priority and without any compromise. Work over the last year has put in place a European crisis coordination structure that is facilitating a much more effective management of this ash crisis at a working level. But Grimsvotn is also a dramatic reminder of the disappointing lack of progress at the political level on the Single European Sky. The potential for a patchwork of inconsistent state decisions on airspace management still exists because there is a major disconnect between the improved process and state decisions on airspace availability,'' said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO.
The 2010 volcanic ash crisis resulted in unnecessary blanket airspace closures as European states took uncoordinated decisions based on a theoretical ash dispersion model with no empirical testing.
Over the last year the European Commission, working with European agencies, including Eurocontrol and airlines, developed a new approach which recommends that: