Flights are cancelled

Air Canada and other airlines cancelled flights out of Newfoundland scheduled for Monday morning as a precautionary measure amid concerns ash clouds from last week’s volcano eruption were heading toward the province.St. John’s, Gander, and Deer Lake were affected by an advisory said Angela Mah of Air Canada. Flights departing St. John’s until 9 a.m. local time were cancelled and the airline will see whether additional measures are necessary in the morning. “We’ll have a better picture tomorrow morning,she said Sunday.The cancellations mean several musicians and industry executives gathered for Sunday evening’s Juno awards could now be indefinitely stranded on the Rock. Most artists taking part in the awards had arrived in St. John’s Sunday, after thick fog had caused massive flight delays over the weekend.Transport Canada said it was working with Environment Canada and NAV Canada to monitor weather patterns and said it would update travellers and airlines as the situation develops.

Porter airlines also issued an April 19 travel advisory on its website warning “due to the potential of airspace closure caused by volcanic ash from volcano Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland, all St. Johns flights will be suspended.Meanwhile as European officials said they would look into allowing more flight to resume Monday, much uncertainty remained in the transport plans of Canadian travellers stranded by flight cancellations in the aftermath of last week’s volcano eruption.Most of Europe’s airspace has been closed for four days due to a sprawling ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano, keeping many continental and trans-Atlantic flights grounded. Air Canada said it would only be able to confirm impact to flights to Europe following the scheduled meetings by European officials.On Sunday, after successful test flights by a number of European airlines, officials predicted about half of all booked flights would operate on Monday.
Any sign that the airport chaos may be coming to an end would be welcome news for Canadians stranded abroad.Dave Bailey was stranded in Lisbon, Portugal, while on a business trip.The Montreal man said he was considering driving 1,600 kilometres to a meeting in Marseilles, France.It’s Mother Nature, what can you do? said Bailey, 58.

The volcano has cost airlines hundreds of millions of dollars, officials said.
European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said he hoped 50 per cent of European airspace would be risk-free on Monday.We cannot wait until the ash flows just disappear, he said.The forecast is that there will be half of flights possibly operating tomorrow,Spanish Secretary of State for European Union affairs Diego Lopez Garrido said Sunday. It will be difficult; that’s why we have to co-ordinate.Meanwhile, parents of 62 Montreal-area students stuck in London, England, were relieved to hear the Grade 11 class was very safe and secure.The families of the Lindsay Place High School students  who were on a graduation trip to Europe  met with principal Jim Aitken on Sunday.A group of Alberta high school students on a school trip to Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Germany were supposed to come home Saturday after a two-week trip. Instead, they are stuck in Germany until at least Tuesday, their principal wrote on their trip blog.I remain optimistic about our departure Tuesday and am in constant contact with officials at the airport, Explorica and Air Canada to respond quickly to any changes, Onoway High School principal Randy Hetherington wrote.

About 20 Edmonton-based troops from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) who will serve in Kandahar for six months were supposed to leave at Thursday, but were delayed because of the closed European airspace, said Land Force Western Area spokesman Fraser Logan.Whether flights will be delayed for soldiers scheduled to return to Edmonton beginning next week after being deployed in September and October is not known, Logan said.I don’t know yet if they’re making alternate plans,” Logan said. The military has its own chartered planes and can set up any air traffic route it wants, he said.Denis Courchesne, from the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds, Que., said hotels and trains in London have increased their prices to take advantage of the influx in travellers.

Courchesne, 49, said he spent $466 on a hotel room on Thursday.In Quebec, when something unpredictable happens, people and the government rally to help, said Courchesne. Here there’s nothing. My company will pay for this but what about people who don’t have that option?Sarah Hughes was planning on landing in Malawi Sunday with bags bearing hundreds of hand-knitted dolls destined for babies and children attending charitable medical clinics in that country.Instead, she and the dolls were stuck in Alberta because of the volcano.She is one of several people with Lifeline Malawi  a Calgary-based charity that runs medical clinics in the African country who was supposed to travel in advance of kicking off a major fundraising campaign.

At the same time, a group of doctors were set to head to Malawi to train staff on neo-natal practices, Hughes said. The charity employs local staff rather than just flying in people, she added.We’re all scattered all over the place,” she said Sunday. “All in all there are lots of things at stake here, but ultimately the charity’s work could be seriously affected with the clinics not receiving supplies, training and funding and the fundraising campaigns unable to start.Calgary airport was reporting Sunday all flights arriving from or departing to destinations in Europe were cancelled. The same was happening at Edmonton International, where Alberta International and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Iris Evans was supposed to fly from for a 10-day promotional tour.

Her flight was cancelled, but she was rebooked for another flight Monday to the United Kingdom, said Mike Deising, spokesman for the ministry.Right now we’re waiting and seeing, he said. We’re totally dependent on what happens with the ash cloud.Meanwhile people in Canada have been opening their homes to stranded passengers.Calgarian Catherine McDonald said she would offer accommodation to any fellow Brits who have found themselves in the city as a result of the disruption.I just hate the thought of anybody who has come out on holiday and is stranded and needs some help for a couple of days, she said.Despite Sunday’s announcement of new flights, Melanie Blanchard said she’s not expecting to leave Paris for Ottawa anytime soon.The concept that everybody’s been told is to sit and wait, said the 25-year-old. It could be a few days, it could be a few weeks before we can get out.

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