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150 Flights to Europe of 4 Chinese Airlines Ground by Volcanic Ash Cloud
As of Monday, which is the fifth day after European air-control authorities implemented the fly ban due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, 63,000 worldwide flights have been canceled, which include 150 flights of four major Chinese airlines. Industry insiders here in China say the situation seems unlikely to change soon. Damin has the details.
Spokeswoman for Air China Zhu Mei, says because the ash cloud over Europe's skies is worrisome, all the airline's flights to Europe on Monday have been canceled.
"We have been notified that some European airports are reopened, but the cloud's effect to airspace travel still exists, so the prospect of a return to normal air travel is far from near."
The spokeswoman says it is hard to tell the exact number of Air China travelers still stranded abroad because many of them booked their tickets through travel agencies. The state television reports that the number could reach over 5,000.
An anonymous official at the Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC, reveals that four airlines including Air China have canceled 150 flights to Europe since last Sunday.
Zhu Mei says the airline had notified all travelers about cancellations via cell-phone text messages and that the company is offering hotel accommodations for those who are stranded at the airports.
Although the cloud appeared clearer on Monday, air-control director with Air China Wang Yaoyong, says only windy or rainy weather can sooner alter the current situation.
"If there is no strong convection weather soon, the situation could last for two or three more days."
Some European airlines are testing the seriousness of the ash cloud's effect and seeking different means, such as changing airways to ease the crisis.
Sun Xinqiang, air-control engineer with Air China, however warns of the cloud's potential damages.
"Small particles in the cloud could be attached on the engine's surface, causing it to stop working abruptly. It could also damage the plane's body and navigation facilities."
Both Air China and CAAC say they are anticipating the next move of European air-control authorities to decide when to lift the fly ban to Europe.