The eruption is actually quite small compared to other eruptions in history, however because it has happened near high traffic airspace, it will continue to cause a problem for airlines and their passengers.
Volcanologists have also hinted that there is a risk of a nearby volcano, "Katla", which is below the ice cap of erupting too, however there are no definite signs of that happening at present. It's just a matter of monitoring it for change.
Volcanic ash at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano
While this is a frustrating time for travelers and airlines alike, the European Union and member states have stated that "Safety" is their paramount priority. Having said that, several airlines including Air France, Air Berlin and Lufthansa have conducted test by flying their airliners up to normal altitudes and monitoring the technical data from the aircraft. They have all stated that flights went normally with no problems detected. They are submitting their technical data to the EU in an attempt to lift the flying ban.
While the ash cloud could block jet engines and cause engine failures, it can also cause health problems for people on the ground too. It can exacerbate lung problems and asthma, however because of the low quantity of ash, this should not be serious. Medical officers encourage asthma sufferers to carry their inhalers around with them at all times.
British Airways are now attempting to seek compensation from the EU and United Kingdom government for the banning of flights that have caused them so much financial loss. It is costing BA over £15m per day in losses. Other airlines are also seeking compensation. It comes at a strange time for BA because there was a scheduled union strike this week, however there would be no purpose to the strike seeing as their are no flights and no man power needed to keep the airline running.
British Airways flights won't be taking off for now
The UK have organized a rescue operation in an attempt to return stranded British travelers back home. The Royal Navy will be sending ships to Spain and other Channel ports.
This article was written by Ian Stevens, managing editor at Fly Away Simulation.