Controversial flight ban extended again in Germany

09:48, April 19, 2010      

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German air control authority DFS decided to extend the flight ban on German international airports to 2:00 a.m. Monday local time (0000 GMT) with the exception of two Berlin airports as a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland continues to pose threat to aircraft.

A DFS spokesman said that the Tegel and Schoenefeld airports of Berlin could remain operational until 22:00 local time on Sunday.

The air traffic controllers had decided earlier on Saturday to partially reopen six of Germany's 16 international airports, including the two Berlin airports and the Frankfurt airport, for eastbound flights for a few hours until 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. It was the first time the flight ban has been loosened in Germany since being imposed late Friday along with other northern European nations due to drifting volcanic ash from Iceland.

Meanwhile Germany's largest airlines, Lufthansa and Air Berlin, have challenged the sense of the flight ban, which they say is completely based on computer simulations from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London instead of real measurement data. Lufthansa has said that gounding all its flights costs the company about 25 million euros daily.

German Traffic Minister Peter Ramsauer defended the overall flight ban by saying that closing the German air space is a necessity to guarantee the safety of all passengers. "The opening of the airspace can only take place if there is reliable information that the volcanic ash no longer poses threat to aviation," he said.

The German Aerospace Center announced on Sunday that it would send a research plane Monday to measure airborne ash particles on Monday after they finished equipping the plane with an ash detector.

Source: Xinhua


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