EU Transport Ministers Meet as New Volcano Plume Disrupts Flights

May 4, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Ground staff secure a plastic cover on the engines of an aircraft at Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland, on April 16, 2010. Flights in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic came back to normal in the afternoon of May 4, after being grounded from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. because of a new volcanic ash cloud the airspace in the northwest part of U.K. (Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)
Ground staff secure a plastic cover on the engines of an aircraft at Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland, on April 16, 2010. Flights in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic came back to normal in the afternoon of May 4, after being grounded from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. because of a new volcanic ash cloud the airspace in the northwest part of U.K. (Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)
European Transport ministers held a special meeting in Brussels on preventive measures in the event of a volcano eruption, coinciding with a new ash volcano plume from Eyjafjallajökull, which caused six hours of flight suspensions across Ireland.

Transport ministers of the European Union discussed measures designed to prevent major travel disruptions during future volcano eruptions.

“The question is not if, but when, this kind of crisis will happen again. It could be next month; it could be in 50 years' time. But volcano eruptions and other crisis events do not respect any rules, so we need to be more flexible and agile in our response,” European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas said in a statement.

The officials discussed proposals for a coordinated European action to review safety assessment for volcanic activity at the EU level, and to revise ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) guidelines by September 2010. Certain provisions of the plan, called Single European Sky II, will be fast-tracked, including the establishment of pan-European efforts to mobilize alternative transportation modes.