Austrian airspace gets all clear

Aviation activity in Austria was back to normal today (Weds) after air traffic officials said there were no possible problems from volcanic ash anymore.Peter Schmidt, a spokesman for air traffic administration agency Austro Control, said the whole country was third in the European Union’s (EU) new three-scale ash danger index.Schmidt explained this meant flights can be carried out without any danger of complications connected to ash which has spread over large parts of the continent following the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjoll also know as Eyjafjallajokull last week.The Austro Control official added he saw good chances that the whole airspace of continental Europe becoming ash-free tonight.Hundreds of flights from all of Austria’s airports were cancelled over the past few days before limited aviation business restarted on Monday.Federal Railways (ÖBB) operated with a dramatically increased number of trains in reaction to the developments which also boosted turnover of car rental firms, taxi drivers and coach trip companies.Karl Gabl, head of the Central Agency for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) of the Innsbruck department meanwhile said the spreading of the ashes had no effects on the melting of the Alpine glaciers.”A slightly grey colouring might be visible, but this will not be of any importance to their shrinking,” he said.The Austrian Alps Society (OeAV) reported earlier this month that 91 per cent of the country’s glaciers diminished in size in 2009.Viennese research agency Humaninstitut today said it found that only one in seven Austrians regarded the reaction by aviation authorities to the volcano’s eruption as “exaggerated”.The body interviewed 850 Austrians older than 16 for their study presented today.Three in four meanwhile backed the initiatives by officials and politicians.This comes after FlyNiki chief executive Niki Lauda branded the reaction of European aviation safety organisation Eurocontrol as the “biggest mistake in the history of aviation”.The former F1 racing driver said on Monday: “It was a totally exaggerated gut decision not based on any facts.”Lauda claimed Austrian aviation safety officials showed the appropriate reaction by putting the decision over whether flights should be carried out or not into the hands of the airlines.Lauda warned his lawyers were already assigned to check chances of claiming compensation for the millions of Euros his firm lost since last Thursday.FlyNiki is Austria’s biggest airline after Austrian Airlines (AUA). While AUA was taken over by the Germany aviation top dog Lufthansa last year, FlyNiki cooperates with Air Berlin, the second-biggest German carrier.FlyNiki – which was founded in 2003 – had 2.6 million customers in 2009, the highest number ever in the company’s history. Lauda said he hoped for more than three million passengers this year.