The eruption of Mount Etna in Sicility forced Catania airport and surrounding airspace to close, leaving passengers stuck on the Mediterranean island or en route to their summer vacation at the height of the travel season.
(Bloomberg) — The eruption of Mount Etna in Sicility forced Catania airport and surrounding airspace to close, leaving passengers stuck on the Mediterranean island or en route to their summer vacation at the height of the travel season.
Catania Airport announced that all departures and arrivals were prohibited and surrounding air space will remain closed until 8 pm local time. The airport’s website showed Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc and Wizz Air Holdings Plc had canceled some morning flights to and from Catania, located on the east coast of the island.
Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, erupted during the night in the southeast crater of the volcano at an altitude of about 2,700 meters, spewing smoke and ash, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said. The activity of the volcano is now receding, the institute said later.
Ash plumes are dangerous to aircraft as their particles can damage jet engines. In 2010, the eruption of a volcano in Iceland created a huge plume of ash that forced many European countries to close their air space, leading to thousands of canceled flights.
Ryanair said on Monday in a travel update that flights to and from Catania could be delayed, diverted or canceled because of the volcanic eruption. Wizz said the activity has meant four rotations have been impacted by delays or cancellations and there could be further changes if the volcano continues to erupt.
EasyJet also delayed some flights from London to Catania, according to the carrier’s website. British Airways said it had to cancel a flight scheduled for Monday because of the airport closure.
About 235 flights were scheduled to depart and arrive on Monday at Catania Airport, making it the sixth busiest airport in Italy, according to data from analytics firm Cirium.
Catania Airport, which is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Mount Etna, last faced disruption in July when it had to suspend flights due to a fire while heat waves and wildfires hit southern Europe this summer.
(Updates with BA statement and Cirium data)
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