Monday, April 19, 2010

Thousands stranded in Asia due to Iceland volcano

SYDNEY – Several thousand air passengers were stranded in Asia for a second day Saturday as flights were grounded because of a massive cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano that paralyzed European airports.At least 45 flights between Europe and Asia were cancelled Saturday, with the number expected to rise to surpass the previous day's 60 cancellations.Officials don't known when the skies in Europe, one of aviation's most congested areas, will be safe again. Volcanic ash limits visibility and is capable of knocking out jet engines. It could be more than a week before the chaos is sorted out, warned David Epstein, corporate affairs manager for Qantas, Australia's largest airline.Qantas said its five flights that normally would go from Australia to Europe via Asian cities were flying Saturday — but only as far as the Asian stops."It's best to put safety before schedule, and where there's any question of volcanic ash being in the air we would prefer to take the safe approach rather than risk it to get flights in," Epstein told reporters in Melbourne.At Beijing's international airport, most of the flights to Europe leaving Saturday had been called off, including ones to London, Paris, Rome, Frankfort and Copenhagen.In Hong Kong, at least one airline, Cathay Pacific, was already canceling some Europe-bound flights for Sunday.A dozen passengers from South Korea's Incheon International Airport were grounded Saturday, said airport staffer Jeon Ji-ye...

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