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.