Normally it would be for the reasons of space and comfort.  Plus, I’ve only flown to Ireland once, and we chose to fly with Aer Lingus.  Just because.

I’ve just watching the news on Sky, catching up on the day’s headlines thus far, in particular the latest on the Grimsvötn Volcanic eruption in Iceland.  I caught the snippet where Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryan Air was interviewed, which was then followed by an interview with Phillip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Transport (UK).

What I could gather was this:

All airlines are given charts containing the latest information with regards to the volcanic ash cloud that is emanating from yet another Icelandic Volcano.  It is up to each of these airlines to interpret the information and decide whether or not they would risk their aircraft and passengers by sending planes up into the sky, or risk the profit margin.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has not blanket-banned flights, as it did with last year’s eruption.  Apparently Michael O’Leary believes that it has.  Most other airlines have chosen to cancel flights in and out of Scotland: putting safety before profits.

So Ryan Air sent up a plane to fly through “red zones” over Scotland earlier this morning.  These red zones are deemed to be where the volcanic ash particles are at their densest in concentration, and therefore potentially damaging to aircraft.

Ryan Air have since dismissed the mere notion that there are actually red zones above Scotland, claiming that there was no trace whatsoever of volcanic ash material recorded by their test flight, and that “Scottish Skies are Safe”.

Philip Hammond’s response was to highlight the fact that the tracking data of the Ryan Air flight this morning shows that it did not even cross through any of the designated red zone areas.  It is perhaps no small wonder that they found no trace of ash.

Does this mean that Ryan Air pilots don’t know where they are flying, or that the Ryan Air Volcanic Ash Cloud Chart Interpreters, cannot in fact interpret the charts?  Either which way, I don’t much like the sound of this one.

There are passengers, this very minute, checking in at the Ryan Air desks at Edinburgh Airport.  I suspect that the flight will go ahead, as some sort of “flip the bird” attitude to the CAA.  I’m kind of glad that I’m not one of those passengers…

Image borrowed from the Telegraph newspaper

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