ASH CLOUD: EU airspace cannot wait for ash cloud dispersal: Kallas

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European transport commissioner Siim Kallas is to discuss whether there are immediate options available to open sections of airspace, after conceding that the Icelandic volcanic ash is unlikely to disperse quickly enough.

"We are faced with an unprecedented shutdown of Europe's airspace," he says. "This situation not sustainable. It is now clear that we cannot just wait until this ash cloud dissipates."

Kallas says that the "fragmentation" of national decisions over airspace availability has limited the ability of aircraft to fly. The Commission and Eurocontrol are meeting in Brussels, with industry representatives, to examine urgent measures.

"The aim is to agree technical solutions for stronger European co-operation to maximise available airspace," says Kallas. "These could be implemented by Eurocontrol immediately."

He says this airspace issue - which must take into account safety considerations and scientific evidence - is the "most urgent" task.

European transport ministers will be advised of the technical meeting's conclusions today.