Britons come home…

According to the Guardian, today, the government’s plans for getting the 200,000 people “stranded” by the ban on flights home include:-

• Deploying the Royal Navy, cruise ships and commercial shipping to transport passengers to the UK if the crisis worsens.

• Using Spain, which is not yet affected by the eruption, as a dropping-off point for stranded air passengers before continuing their journey by train, coach or boat.

• Adonis meeting with all EU transport ministers via video-conference to consider the scientific evidence for establishing safe flight corridors through the ash.

• British consulate officials visiting key airports worldwide to advise passengers of their rights, including food and accommodation from EU-registered carriers.

But whatever happened to personal initiative?

OK, there will be some who are happy to extend their holiday, taking advantage of a situation for which they can’t be blamed, and some who simply don’t have the money to fend for themselves (though don’t British embassies and consulates have the ability to finance stranded travellers?), but there is simply nowhere on this planet which, in the absence of air travel, can’t be left using land or sea, or a combination of the two.

Anyone on mainland Europe should be able to get themselves home with relatively little difficulty using trains, buses, and cross-channel ferries. Further afield it may be rather more complicated, but not impossible.

Sitting on your arse and waiting to be rescued, especially if you have, or can raise, the money to fend for yourself, should surely be the last resort.

However, as for:-

“Adonis meeting with all EU transport ministers via video-conference to consider the scientific evidence for establishing safe flight corridors through the ash,” why are they not looking at the possibility of establishing safe flight corridors below the ash, as I said previously?

Yes, I know it’ll be more expensive, and inconvenient, but it’s surely safer that putting planes up in the ash zone, where conditions might   change faster than pilots can respond to them? The idea of a “corridor” through the ash is absurd – the atmosphere is in constant motion.

The ash, after all, is so diffuse it’s pretty much invisible (it’s the sheer volume of air that jet engines suck in that makes it dangerous – I read somewhere that it’s equivalent to the volume of 2 or 3 medium-sized houses every minute, or possibly every second – there’s so much information online now it’s impossible to find the original info). Either way, it’s a hell of a lot of dust-laden air, and it’ll do a hell of a lot of damage.

It makes me wonder if they’ll be able to find flight crews willing to take the risk, and if they do, will they be adequately rewarded for doing so. And how keen will passengers be – at least the more well-informed ones – to share that risk?

I know that sounds a bit negative, but if a passenger jet loses engine power at 30-odd thousand feet, the inevitable result is a hole in the ground and a whole lot of grieving relatives – what happens if it comes down on a major city doesn’t bear thinking about.


4 thoughts on “Britons come home…

  1. I’m fed up reading about the Scare tactics employed by the UK govt according to IATA etc. I dont know what its like at 30k ft but here im coughing and spluttering so I don’t fancy dicing with death up there!

    • Not scare tactics – quite the opposite – they seem to be trying to play down the risk.

      If it’s any consolation, I’ve been coughing my dangly bits off the past few days too, though to be honest I can’t see any sign of dust/ash – the plant leaves outside my window are still bright and shiny.

      I did hear of one bloke in Bedford who claimed he was standing outside with a torch, watching ash falling on his car. Why he’d want to stand out in it is quite beyond me!

      However, I’ve read no verified reports of the ash falling here – with the very light winds the heavier stuff seems to be dropping out long before it gets here, and the light ash is staying way up high. Nevertheless, as I said in my original post a few days ago, I have a box of dust masks just in case.


  2. Hi Ron — I never thought of the flying lower thing. It must be possible? Re. ash falling, a couple of mornings ago my car windscreen was covered in a light layer of something that looked suspiciously ashy (I live in Bedfordshire – not far from Bedford’s Night Ash Man, mentioned in your post). Strange times.x

    • Yep, as I said in an earlier post, flying lower uses more fuel, and there will need to be refuelling stops (plus they’ll have to go around many mountain ranges), so it will be more expensive, but it beats doing nothing at all.

      I thought the taxi looked pretty dusty on Thursday morning, but they spend so much time on the road they’ll be dustier than the average car anyway.

      Someone told me there was a bonfire in the Bedford area – whether that’s true or not I don’t know. I’ve not been out, I’m out of action at the moment, but there’s no sign of any untoward dustiness around the window vents.

      We’ll just have to suck it and see – quite possibly literally…

      Still, there’s one consolation – it’s given me something different to write about.


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