For Nathan Bibby and his 30 friends, the eruption in Iceland caused a serious trouble: “it’s a theft; we’ll have to pay 400 Euros extra for the trip and hotel”.
The Preston Harriers Athletics Club team were due to fly home after spending their Easter break training in Portugal's warm climate. They don’t know yet when it will be possible to return.
“It’s not bad to stay. The problem is the money”, says Nathan.
He is one of 7000 passengers stranded in Faro due to the closing of UK airspace. The ash cloud looks set to cause further problems, leaving the passengers with an agonising wait to hear whether or not they will be home for the weekend or are stuck for even more days.
António Correia Mendes, director of the International Faro Airport, told the Algarve Observer: “there are parts of Europe inaccessible by air, and this will affect all the flight connections. It’s impossible to predict, since it’s an uncommon phenomenon. We just have to wait and see how it evolves.”
According to him, there are about 14000 passengers affected by disrupted flights from/to Faro, and the situation tends to get worse with the foreseen closing of other countries airspaces, as in Belgium, Germany and Holland.
Although it’s not unusual the cancelling of flights due to weather, a situation like this, which affected already 15% of the European flights, is “highly unusual”.
And even though the disruption affects mostly the passengers, there are consequences for normal airport traffic and the tourism. “If the situation were solved today, it would take 3-4 days to get things to normal”.
Correia Mendes adds that the airport only has to guarantee the conditions for the air traffic. The air companies are the ones responsible for the passenger’s transportation, and have their own policies to face these disruption problems. “I believe they’re trying their best”.
The Irish couple Brandon Bunting and wife think those efforts aren’t good enough. They should have returned home today to Belfast, but the air company already denied them any accommodation, even they guarantee to be without money to pay for one. This evening will be then spent in any corner they find comfortable in Faro Airport.
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