European airlines conduct test flights, urge an end to the ban

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman. It was a beautiful day in London but nothing with wings was departing from Gatwick Airport. Perhaps Aer Lingus' flight to West Knock was a bit too optimistic!

Copyright Photo: Gabor Hajdufi. The volcanic ash over Europe is creating some beautiful sunsets while the aviation industry loses large amounts of money.

According to this Associated Press report, several major European airlines conducted test flights today and found no damage from the volcanic ash that has paralyzed aviation over the European continent, increasing pressure on governments to ease restrictions that have thrown global travel and commerce into chaos.

Is it safe to fly yet? Airline officials and some pilots say the passengerless test flights show that it is. Meteorologists warn that the skies over Europe remain unstable from an Icelandic volcano that continues to spew ash capable of knocking out jet engines.

European Union officials said air traffic could return to half its normal level on Monday if the dense cloud begins to dissipate. Germany allowed some flights to resume.

Eighty percent of European airspace remained closed for a devastating fourth day on Sunday, with only 4,000 of the normal 20,000-flight schedule in the air, said Brian Flynn, deputy head of operations for Eurocontrol, which supports the air traffic control network across the European Union’s 27 states.

Read the full report: