• Germany's news in English

Volcano forces closure of Munich airport

DPA/The Local · 9 May 2010, 15:57

Published: 09 May 2010 15:57 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Four German airports have been closed down until further notice on Sunday as the new cloud of volcanic ash spread across southern Europe. Friedrichshafen, Augsburg, Stuttgart and the major transport hub Munich were all closed at 3 pm, after the cloud reached northern Italy in the morning. The airports of Milan, Florence and Pisa have also been temporarily shut down.

The German air-traffic control agency (DFS) closed Munich airport because of a highly concentrated ash cloud in the airspace above the area, a spokesman said. The airspace above southern Germany was described as "potentially contaminated."

As many as 500 Sunday flights have been cancelled in Europe, the Brussels-based flight safety organisation Eurocontrol announced, including 31 from Germany's biggest airport in Frankfurt. This primarily affected flights to Milan, Lisbon and the US.

News magazine Der Spiegel has reported that pilots have complained about Lufthansa's decision to allow certain commercial passenger flights to go ahead according to Visual Flight Rules (VFR) during the closure of airspace in April.

VFR means that pilots fly around dangerous clouds until they reach a cruising altitude above them, guided mainly by their own judgment. According to the magazine, Lufthansa safety pilot Jürgen Steinberg now regrets his approval of the decision. "That must not happen again. If the situation happened again, my recommendation would be 'Don't do it!'," Steinberg said.

In mid-April, the DFS closed the lower airspace in Germany to flights using instruments because of the ash cloud. But after coordinating with other authorities, the DFS permitted VFR flights.

Lufthansa defended the decision. "That was a completely clean process," company spokesman Klaus Walther told the news agency DPA. "It was totally safe." Walther said that there had not been a single incident, and no pilot had refused to fly. Referring to Steinberg's statement, Walther said, "That is his private opinion."

Story continues below…

The cancellation of tens of thousands of flights during six days in mid-April led to billion-euro losses to the flight industry.

Related links:

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

22:42 May 9, 2010 by DerSchweitzer
I did not board my flight to London with Swiss Airlines tonight. I'm puzzled that airports are closed in Northern Italy, Austria and Germany but not in Switzerland.There is no mention of the current situation on the Zurich Airport website. The latest news ther. Only states how much mony they have lost with the closure in April. Msnbc and Accuweather both state that the ash cloud is over Switzerland today. Your article and comments of Lufthansa pilots (the owner of Swiss) only makes this more suspicious. It reminds me of the Tchernobyl cloud that supposedly did not cross the french border while every other country was giving safety advice. Have we switched from extreme safety measure to overconfidence that everything will be all right?
01:39 May 10, 2010 by piper1
And if it is closed... it is closed. Sheisse passiert.
Today's headlines
The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd