As air traffic resumed in Britain after six days of paralysis Wednesday, questions were being asked whether the blanket closure of airspace was justified.
In an unexpected turnaround late Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ruled that airspace could be reopened after new guidelines based on a ‘reassessment’ of the risk from the volcanic ash cloud.
In London, the government was criticized for ‘mismanaging’ the crisis by the opposition Conservatives, who described the situation as a ‘fiasco.’
British Airways (BA) chief executive Willie Walsh said it was now clear that the blanket ban had not been justified.
‘I don’t believe it was necessary to impose a blanket ban on all UK airspace last Thursday. My personal belief is that we could have safely continued operating for a period of time,’ he said.
Meanwhile, air traffic control company Nats insisted it faced no political pressure to ease the restrictions.
‘We don’t feel we have been under pressure from the government,’ said spokesman Alex Bristol. ‘Where the pressure has come has been to better understand the safety implications.’