Do you remember the last major disruption of international air travel 10 years ago?

Do you remember the last major disruption of international air travel 10 years ago?

The difficulties people throughout the world are experiencing with air travel, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, reminds Paul Whitelock of the shutdown of air travel 10 years ago when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted and filled the upper atmosphere with tons of volcanic ash. Here is an article he wrote at the time…

Because of the Europe-wide flight ban, caused by the eruption last week of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, thousands of people around the world are having to take an enforced holiday!

Many people who were due to fly home after flights were suspended last week are now in the position that they can’t get home and back to work or school as planned.

Great, you might think – extra holiday and I can’t do anything about it!

Maybe for some that’s true, but what about the self-employed? What about people who have run out of money?  What about people who need urgent medication?  And don’t imagine for one minute that your employer will concede this time as extra holiday – it will come out of your normal leave allocation, thereby possibly disrupting other plans you may have had for a second or third holiday or to decorate the lounge!

Around my village here in the Serranía de Ronda there are quite a few who’ve been stranded.  Wolfgang, from Cologne, has to get back to speak at a conference he’s organised!  He won’t make it, I fear.  He’s managed to book a flight for today, but with the huge backlog of flights, and planes being in the wrong place, it’s doubtful whether it will take off on time, if at all.  Roger, a self-employed businessman, has resigned himself to staying put until 1 May.  Fortunately he has his own house here, so won’t incur any additional accommodation costs.  A Danish couple, Lars and Kristel, set off two days ago to drive back to their home in Copenhagen.

Further afield, the comedian John Cleese famously took a taxi from Oslo to Brussels last week at a cost of $5400 (€4000 or £3500 at the time) and Gary Lineker, who was on holiday in Tenerife with his family, managed to get a flight to Madrid, from where he drove all the way back to the UK in time to present Match of the Day.

If Katla, the volcano adjacent to Eyjafjallajökull, also erupts, who’s to say the ban might not be extended for weeks to come.

On the other side of the coin, thousands will get no leave at all!  Due to depart for holidays abroad, they cannot get there at the moment and must stay at home.

It’s my 60th birthday party in four weeks’ time.  Will my UK family and friends’ flights get them here? I’m beginning to wonder…

Postscript: Paul did get to celebrate reaching 60 back in 2010 with a barbecue party in Montejaque with UK family and friends in attendance as well as local friends. Now 70, his plans to celebrate that landmark by going on holiday with his family to Cornwall were turned on their head when the Covid-19 lockdown intervened. He is now hoping for a joint celebration with wife Rita and close family in 2021.

Paul Whitelock

About Paul Whitelock

Paul Whitelock is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita, and his dog, Berti. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda doing DIY, gardening and writing.