ASH CLOUD: Widespread airspace closures not anticipated: Kallas

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Europe is better equipped to deal with the latest volcanic ash cloud crisis than it was a year ago, and widespread airspace closures are not anticipated this time, according to European transport commissioner Siim Kallas.

The ash cloud resulting from the eruption of Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano on 21 May has so far led to flight disruptions across Scotland.

However, Kallas pointed out that the volcano, the ash, the weather and "most importantly the European response" are different from the crisis that followed the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano in April 2010.

"Whilst fully respecting the imperative of safety, Europe is now equipped to respond with a graduated response rather than a one size fits all approach," said Kallas. "This should avoid blanket closure of our airspace."

The European Commission has issued formal guidance to member states and the final decision on whether to open or close airspace remains with national authorities.

"Although we are partly dependent on the weather and the pattern of ash dispersion, we do not at this stage anticipate the widespread airspace closures and the prolonged disruption we saw last year," said Kallas.