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Planes Grounded by Icelandic Ash

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699960.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:51 am Reply with quote

I must admit I'm very impressed by the way the government has managed to take advantage of the pretence of helping out stranded tourists to move warships into position for what must surely prove to be a full-scale invasion of France.

I look forward to taking tea and scones in Calais any day now.

699970.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:39 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
The thing is there is a whole heap of difference between living abroad and being stranded abroad

A tutor at college today was telling of her daughter stranded in x in Portugal, someone (no doubt trying to look on the bright side) said it was a great place to be stuck. Tutor then said "yes it would be if you weren't stuck in an airport with a suitcase full of dirty clothes, no money and a fractious baby in tow" (tutor's husband [a taxi driver :talk about busmen's holidays] was despatched to get the daughter and grand daughter home by car. He was in France as of 4am today).

699973.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:45 am Reply with quote

djgordy wrote:
The people who are saying that the total fly ban is an overreaction.

Is not that by now almost everyone?

The reason that airplanes are by now flying again is not that the Icelandic ash has gone away - it hasn't, and it won't until either the wind changes to a sou'westerly (expected on about Sunday) or there is some prolonged rainfall (not expected in the immediate future).

Rather, it's that the Powers That Be have decided that it's actually OK to fly through the stuff even though for the last week they've been saying that it isn't. Someone has screwed up big style - either last week or now - and the Daily Telegraph believes that this will lead to the Met Office being sued for a ten digit sum.

Who do you suppose will end up paying that ten digit sum ...? And won't it be fun for a new government to have to explain to the public just why we must pay it?

djgordy wrote:
Driving a hire car or getting a coach as opposed to flying does not seem to me to be a great hardship.

Well no indeed. One guy that 5 Live talked to was going on about having paid 3,000 for a taxi from İstanbul to Calais (which actually strikes me as rather cheap, given that the 25 miles from Bromley to Rochester costs 75).

But should not that guy have stopped and thought for a minute? Wouldn't it have been cheaper to buy a car and drive himself? (And given that most things are cheaper in Turkey than in England, he could have sold the car again on arrival home and might even have made a profit!)

CB27 wrote:
90% of expats living abroad claim to have a better life than here, and that only 19% will consider returning.

I wonder whether all countries' expats say that their new country is preferable to their old one. I certainly do - it's very unlikely that I'll ever forsake England and go back to live in Canada.

699987.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:53 am Reply with quote

The people I'm worried about are the 9% who think their life is better in their new home, but would consider returning to Blighty nevertheless.

699989.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:59 am Reply with quote

Is it an over reaction though? without the power of hindsight, if you were Willie Walsh for instance would you have opted for low flight rules?

We were discussing last night outside the White house that very thing, and the overwhelming response was that the flight ban was the correct course of action. Yes I'm frustrated at being away from home, yes I really really want to get home, but above all I want to get home safely. And if the powers that be say that there may be a problem if the plane flies at an appropriate level that the Air Traffic Controllers can see the plane, then so be it. Ok so I'm in a pretty good position where I can pay out for the hotel in advance and then sort it out when I get back and others aren't, so maybe I'm biased. But remember the news oganisations aren't really that bothered to speak to people like me because my story isn't all that interesting. My wife and I are stuck in a 5* hotel being looked after extremely well by the staff of a said great hotel, in a city where you don't really have to spend any other money. It's hardly frontpage news perhaps if we both had ADHD and any number of other acronyms wring with us then it might be a different story. But then I suppose we would have gone to Florida or Lanzarote

700041.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:24 pm Reply with quote

If there was the slightest chance that planes might be damaged by flying in the ash, i wouldn't want to risk it. Yes, i know all flights carry risks, but why add an extra one when you don't HAVE to.
People I know of are stuck in various locations including San Fran, Atlanta, Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur, Bahamas, and one friend is hoping to be back in the UK tomorrow after going Belize - Houston - New York - Rome - Pisa - London.

Two questions... how can the met office be sued over this? They told everyone about the ash, and surely it's not their decision whether planes fly or not? Its NATS that decide that.

How can the airlines be expecting compensation from EU governments over all of this. It was a natural act - no one could have stopped it happening - so how on earth can they expect to be compensated for it?

Sadurian Mike
700047.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:40 pm Reply with quote

The problem is that there is always the "slightest chance" of airplanes being damaged, whether by ash or anything else. Flying at the moment might require more maintenance on the aircraft to clean filters and fans, but there is very little chance of a repeat of the 1982 incident if everyone sticks to the rules.

As for being sued; you'd have to prove that the closure wasn't in passengers' best interests. That means a lot of risk assessments are going ot be examined minutely and I dare say that two completely different interpretations drawn.

Janet H
700068.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:20 pm Reply with quote

Aparrently it goes back tomeetings between the ICAO (International CivilAviation Organisation) and the engine manufacturters. Grauniard
The engine mnanufacturers wouldn't set a lower limit, in case a flight exceeded it by 1ppm and crashed. They woulnd then be sued out of business. So the limit was declared zero, which is why we ended up in this mess last wednesday.

700076.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:31 pm Reply with quote

Are you any closer to getting home Janet?
Just spent an hour on the phone to BA and he says "shuddup foo you will get on the plane, now go eat yer vegtables" We now have seats booked for Fridays flight so with a tail wind, a bit of hope, and a little luck, we'll be home Saturday Morning.

I don't think I've been this excited about a flight for many a year now

Sadurian Mike
700104.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:41 pm Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
"shuddup foo you will get on the plane, now go eat yer vegtables" We now have seats booked for Fridays flight so with a tail wind,

Eating all your vegetables will give you a tail wind.

700106.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:44 pm Reply with quote

Oh dear - we don't need any more clouds representing possible health and safety risks.

700107.  Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:44 pm Reply with quote

greentree wrote:
Two questions... how can the met office be sued over this? They told everyone about the ash, and surely it's not their decision whether planes fly or not? Its NATS that decide that.

The claim made in the Daily Telegraph is that NATS acted on advice from the Met Office Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (yes, it did exist before last week), and that the Met Office gave that advice based on "very limited empirical data".

According to a German Eurocrat who presumably wishes to make a name for himself - and therefore I shall avoid mentioning his name here - NATS "should not have relied on a single source of scientific evidence before imposing the widespread ban". That German also claims that he ordered the British government to allow the test flights which took place over the weekend, after the government had originally refused permission.

Quite how all this will be resolved we shall find out in the fullness of time, but that time could be full indeed - I'm anticipating court cases, refusals of leave to appeal, appeals to Europe, overrulings, and all the rest of it.

And indeed, Ryanair will probably find itself as defendant in a similarly protracted saga. That company has stated a position that it does not consider its liability to any passenger to exceed that passenger's fare. The EU has told it that this won't do, to which Michael O'Leary's response has been "So sue us". Someone undoubtedly will.

Now if you wanted to sue Ryanair, you'd have to do it in Dublin. If Ryanair were to lose, that might put the company out of business. Would an Irish court dare?

700198.  Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:36 am Reply with quote

I was wondering about that, suze. My bet is that anybody who books with Ryanair knows they're paying peanuts and doesn't seriously expect anything to happen and will therefore not sue. Unless one of them happens to be bobwilson, who might do it for the heck of it.

I checked the Easyjet website last night and it looks as if scheduled flights from Pisa are now happening, so unless there are any new developments between now and the weekend, I think we are likely to get back to the UK on Sunday as planned.

As for the life better/worse as an expat - it's not a simple thing for me to answer. In some respects my life is materially better in the USA. I can afford to live in a much nicer house and there are things that are more comfortable about my life. The environment is far more physically beautiful in Maine than in Watford (no, really?)

However - and it is a big however - all things taken into consideration, I actually preferred living in the UK despite that. I miss history, I miss my UK friends and my two children there, and I miss the easy access to Europe. I miss British conversation and humour, and even British TV. Having said all that, if I were to move back to the UK I would miss my American friends very much, and I would miss the beauty of the state of Maine, and I would miss my younger son and his wife, who live here, and my stepdaughter and her daughter. It feels to me as if once you've become an expat you're forever stranded with one metaphorical foot in each country, which is not a comfortable stance.

Financially, for my children's future, it makes more sense for me to stay in the US and attempt to become non-domiciled in the UK, because of the huge difference in inheritance tax laws between the two countries, so I guess I'm likely to end up staying in the US.

700239.  Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:08 am Reply with quote

I imagine that Ryanair's position is based on a gamble that the bulk of their passengers are not familiar with the phrase 'class action'.

FWIW, here is the EU legislation around air passenger protections in such events.

I would think that Ryanair are going to be leaning on this provision fairly heavily;

(14) As under the Montreal Convention, obligations on operating
air carriers should be limited or excluded in cases
where an event has been caused by extraordinary
circumstances which could not have been avoided even
if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances
may, in particular, occur in cases of political
instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with
the operation of the flight concerned, security risks,
unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that
affect the operation of an operating air carrier.

(15) Extraordinary circumstances should be deemed to exist
where the impact of an air traffic management decision
in relation to a particular aircraft on a particular day
gives rise to a long delay, an overnight delay, or the
cancellation of one or more flights by that aircraft, even
though all reasonable measures had been taken by the
air carrier concerned to avoid the delays or cancellations.

The existence of those paragraphs does seem to take the wind out of the articles regarding provision of accomodation, food and/or compensation.

700245.  Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:14 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Someone has screwed up big style - either last week or now

That's not necessarily the case.

The current government line is that the flight ban was based on the best scientific evidence available at the time and that, over the last week, much more data has been collected by scientists working around the clock allowing a greater understanding of the situation.

I know a lot of people are suggesting that this is just an excuse to explain away the fact that the government has caved in to pressure from the airlines. That may be true, but then again the government might actually be telling the truth. Scientific conclusions can change based on increased data, so it doesn't sound wholly unlikely to me.

barbados wrote:
My wife and I are stuck in a 5* hotel being looked after extremely well by the staff of a said great hotel, in a city where you don't really have to spend any other money. It's hardly frontpage news

A similar story which I haven't see reported anywhere was the hotel here in Edinburgh that yesterday announced it was offering 100 free rooms to travellers stranded here due to the volcanic ash cloud. The press statement read:

"We are aware of the shortage in accommodation for those who cannot reach their destination and need somewhere to stay while arranging alternative means of travel. Rather than profiteering from this difficult situation we would like to help those who are stranded in our beautiful city."

Which is nice :)


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