Mount Etna eruption causes travel chaos

Sicilian volcano Mount Etna has erupted causing chaos for airlines with flights routed via the island.

The massive plume of ash and smoke caused by the eruption has already caused easyJet to cancel flights from several UK cities including Edinburgh, as the Italian island’s main airport, Catania, was forced to close. The eruption began overnight Sunday to Monday, and although the lava flow subsided before dawn, ash was still billowing from one of the craters.

No flights will be allowed in until at least 6 PM UK time, the airport said, in a message released earlier today on X (Twitter).

Aviation data provider Cirium said that the airport was due to handle 235 flights on Monday. Other airlines affected include British Airways, Ryanair and KLM, with flights cancelled, delayed or diverted to other airports on the island.

This latest setback at Sicily’s main airport comes just weeks after a fire caused lengthy disruption and forced the facility to close temporarily, impacting on the popular holiday island’s busiest time of the year.

Mount Etna last saw a major eruption in 1992.

Ryanair and Wizz Air retain flight schedules amid easyJet cancellations

Ryanair and Wizz Air have said that they will not be altering their summer flight schedules like easyJet, and have taken measures to mitigate the potential chaos caused by air traffic control delays, The Telegraph has reported.

The statement comes after easyJet revealed it would cancel 1,700 flights across the summer due to air traffic control delays. It said that 95 per cent of the 180,000 passengers affected had been booked onto other flights.

Ryanair stated that it will maintain its full schedule of 3,200 daily flights throughout the summer and noted that it is fully staffed for the season. Wizz Air, on the other hand, has doubled its operations team and increased its plane crew by 10 percent. It has also added 11 percent extra aircraft capacity and implemented an AI tool to better forecast and mitigate disruptions.

Citing easyJet’s flight cancellations, Ryanair said that there was a need for urgent air traffic control reform in Europe. Ryanair had previously submitted a petition to the European Commission, signed by over 1.2 million passengers, highlighting the impact of French ATC strikes.

‘These easyJet cancellations again highlight the urgent need for ATC reform in Europe to protect overflights, Ryanair said. ‘We call again on Ursula von der Leyen to take action to protect overflights in response to Ryanair’s petition which was signed by over 1.2 million fed up passengers and was submitted to her office on May 31, over six weeks ago.’

Ryanair and Wizz Air have strengthened their staff numbers to mitigate potential issues caused by air traffic control delays and strikes. British Airways had previously recruited 3,000 additional staff members in preparation for the summer season.

Airlines have a number of challenges this summer, including airspace reduction due to the Russia-Ukraine war and strikes by air traffic control staff. French Air Traffic Control strikes, in particular, have caused significant disruptions, as planes are unable to fly over French airspace during the strikes, the report noted.

Pandemic continues to cause thousands of flight cancellations

Airlines across the globe are having to cancel thousands of scheduled flights as the Covid pandemic continues to cause travel chaos at one of the industry’s busiest times of the year.

Monday and Tuesday of this week saw a combined total of 5,600 flights cancelled globally, with a further 19,000 flights delayed, CNN has reported, quoting figures from tracking website FlightAware.

Globally, airlines cancelled more than 6,000 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, many of the cancellations due to airline staff and crew calling in sick.

In the United States, more than 1,200 flights were cancelled and more than 5,000 were delayed on Sunday alone due to staff absences.

Delta said it was working to get all stranded travellers home as quickly as possible, saying in a statement, ‘We apologise to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.’

Though not to the same extent, European airlines are also experiencing cancellations. German airline Lufthansa has announced that it will cancel 10 percent of its winter flight schedule due to problems inflicted by the burgeoning effects of the pandemic. Its CEO Carsten Spohr spoke to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung last week saying that that due to ‘a sharp drop in bookings’ the airline will have to cancel 33,000 flights from mid-January to February 2022, or 10 percent of the group’s winter flight schedule.

Cunard extends suspension of voyages as Covid-19 crisis continues

Luxury cruise line Cunard has said that it will be extending the suspension of voyages as a result of the continued impact of Covid-19.

Cunard is the operator of luxury cruise ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, and the only line to offer regularly scheduled transatlantic service between New York and London. For its ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Cunard is cancelling all sailings that were due to depart up to and including July 31, 2020. For Queen Elizabeth, the cruise line has cancelled the entire Alaska season and all departures up to and including September 8, 2020.

‘These are extraordinary times and this global outbreak continues to challenge Cunard and the travel industry as a whole,’ said Simon Palethorpe, President, Cunard. ‘We would love nothing more than to bring our fleet back in to service, and give our guests the holidays they deserve and long for, but with the lockdowns and travel restrictions in place around the world, this is simply not possible at this time.’

‘We have been sailing for 180 years and we look forward to many more,’ he added. ‘We will get through these tough times together and look forward to welcoming our guests back on board again when the time is right.’

As earlier, guests who are booked on cancelled voyages during this period will automatically be given a 125 per cent Future Cruise Credit or have an option of a full refund. This may be used on any sailing before the end of March 2022, and the booking must be made by December 31, 2021. Guests may now also use their Future Cruise Credit for a second cabin to bring friends or family or to upgrade an existing booking. Full details on voyage cancellations, the changes to operations and the current cancellation policies including options available to guests due to travel on cancelled voyages, can be found at

Cunard will communicate with all guests, and their travel advisors, who are booked on affected voyages. Travel advisor commission on all bookings fully paid by April 22, 2020 will be protected.

Cunard will continue to monitor government guidelines and travel restrictions around the world, which could mean further changes to the timing of when each of the ships returns to service, it said.

Europe’s floods cause travel cancellations

Extensive flooding across large areas of Central Europe is causing travel chaos and the cancellation of holiday bookings.

Following days of heavy rain, many of the rivers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary are dangerously high or have already broken their banks. River cruise companies have been the hardest hit, with US-based Viking River Cruises already having cancelled its June 9 sailings from Budapest to Nuremberg, and Passau to Budapest. Further cancellations and alterations to schedules are expected between June 5 and June 16.

In a statement, Viking commented, ‘In many instances, due to having the largest fleet in river cruising combined with our in-house nautical and operations team in Switzerland, we are able to continue operating our itineraries through careful planning and switching of sister ships. In every decision we make, the safety of our guests and crew remains our top priority.’

A number of other river cruise operators are also announcing cancellations, including Avalon Waterways, with three departures cancelled between now and June 14.

Flooding in Slovakia, particularly in its capital city, Bratislava, has prompted the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to issue a warning for travellers to the country, saying, ‘Some people may also experience disruption to travel plans as a result. Please check with your local operator for the latest information.’

The Czech Republic has also announced a nationwide state of emergency, with 3,000 people having to leave their homes, seven people having died, and the floodwaters yet to peak. Southern Germany has been badly impacted by the flooding, with the army called in to help. According to the BBC, water levels in the Bavarian town, Passau, are impassable and higher than at any time since the 16th century.


Carnival cancels cruises to address propulsion problems

Carnival Cruise Lines, a British-American owned cruise line with its headquarters in Florida, USA, has cancelled more cruises while it addresses problems with its vessel’s propulsion systems.

The 12 cancelled sailings that have just been announced include 10 that were scheduled for the Carnival Triumph, the ship that suffered an engine room fire that left it stranded in the Gulf of Mexico last month, and 2 that were scheduled to be the debut voyages of the Carnival Sunshine, the former Carnival Destiny that is being renamed following a USD155 million refit. The cancellation of voyages to Barcelona and Venice aboard the refurbished ship means that it will now not commence its service until May 5 this year.

The cancellation package on offer to disappointed Carnival Sunshine passengers includes a full refund, the reimbursement of any travel costs that are not refundable and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

The 10 latest cancellations to affect Carnival Triumph take its total of cancelled voyages to 22, with 12 having already been announced. A cancellation package similar to that offered to Carnival Sunshine’s passengers is also available to those that were to travel on the sister vessel.

Gerry Cahill, the company’s president and chief executive said, ‘The changes we are implementing are focused primarily on improvements to better support continued power and hotel services should unexpected issues arise.

‘Going forward, the review will focus on the balance of our fleet. While this process will take time, it is our highest priority and has the full support and resources of Carnival Cruise Lines and Carnival Corporation.’

A Carnival statement said, ‘The cruise line is making significant investments to enhance the level of operating redundancies and the scope of hotel services that can run on emergency power, and further improve each ship’s fire prevention, detection and suppression systems.

‘Given the necessary lead time to source needed materials and implement the enhancements, Carnival will extend the current out-of-service period for these two ships.’


UK Ground Transport and Flights Disrupted By Bad Weather

Flights to and from the UK have been hit by severe bad weather. Yesterday, London Heathrow airport saw cancellations of one in ten flights due to snowfall and bad weather conditions.

In a statement Heathrow has reported that, ‘The airport is fully operational although there may be some disruption to flights due to weather conditions in the United Kingdom and across Europe. Please allow extra time for your journey to the airport and check the status of your flight with your airline before travelling.’

Flights from all other UK airports, including Bristol, Aberdeen, Luton, Birmingham, Southampton, Belfast, and Stansted, have also been disrupted, and passengers have been advised to check their flight status before leaving for the airport.

Meanwhile, train services have seen most disruption on those routes served by ScotRail, Grand Central, First Hull Trains, First Great Western, and East Coast rail operators. All other train services in the UK are currently running on time.

More snow is expected in Southern England. The Highways Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT) has reported, ‘Road users in South West England are being advised to check the latest weather forecast and road conditions before they travel today (Tuesday 22 January and overnight into the morning of Wednesday 23 January), due to the forecast of further snow. As a result of the snow the Highways Agency has issued an Amber Alert and customers are advised to take extra care when travelling due to the increased risk of adverse driving conditions.

The Highways Agency, which is responsible for motorways and other major roads in England, and is working closely with the Met Office to monitor weather conditions and maintain safe roads and reliable journeys.

Drivers are also advised to plan their journey before they set out, to check the forecast and road conditions, to leave extra time if travel conditions are poor and to consider delaying their journey if the weather becomes severe.

Up-to-date information on road conditions across England’s motorways and trunk roads is available on the Highways Agency website at or by calling 0300 123 5000.’