European flights resume after six-day shutdown

The International Air Transport Association has said that airlines lost around $1.70 billion as a result of the shutdown caused by the volcanic ash

Most of the European nations, including the UK and Germany, reopened their airspace today after an unprecedented six-day lockdown due to the Icelandic volcanic ash that stranded tens of thousands of passengers globally and caused airlines a loss of $1.70 billion, reports PTI.

All UK airports reopened under a new deal making airlines to agree to conduct “intensive” ash-damage inspections of aircraft before and after each flight. Germany and 18 other EU countries also announced full reopening of their airspace.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that airlines lost around $1.70 billion as a result of the shutdown caused by the volcanic ash.

During the weekend, carriers were losing $400 million per day, IATA said in Berlin, while describing as “conservative” the earlier estimate of $200 million per day.

Europe’s air traffic control agency Eurocontrol estimated last night that around 75% of European airspace was now open and only a small air-traffic corridor in north-west Europe remained closed.

Eurocontrol said that about 50% of Europe's 27,000 daily flights resumed their operation yesterday.

A spokesman for the agency said in Brussels that he expected the continent’s air traffic to normalise in the coming days.

More than 95,000 flights were cancelled across Europe since the flight ban was imposed on Thursday last in the wake of volcanic ash clouds which spread from Iceland to other countries in the continent.

More than 800 flights operated from Germany’s main airports yesterday before the full reopening of airspace, thanks to special permission given to the airlines to fly a limited number of services.

It required the pilots to fly manually instead of instrumental flights and to maintain a level below 3,000 metres.

National carrier Lufthansa, Air Berlin and German Wings and charter operator Condor availed of the special permission to bring back home hundreds of their customers stranded abroad and to ferry passengers stranded in Germany.

Germany's air traffic control authority DFS, said that the special permission was issued to the airlines in response to their request and the pilots had to fly their aircraft relying entirely on their visibility.

The decision to issue special permission for airlines was taken by Germany's Federal Office for Air Safety after test flights by Lufthansa showed that there was no risk in such “controlled flying” below 3,000 metres.
Britain's Aviation Authority had early yesterday extended the flight ban till this morning, but retracted its decision and allowed landings and takeoffs at all airports from last night.

Experts in the UK warned that the travel industry faces a “huge logistical operation” as some 150,000 Britons were currently stranded overseas.

The country's aviation authority announced a “phased reintroduction” of UK airspace from 10PM last night.

The deal—which amounts to a rewriting of current rules—involves airlines agreeing to making “intensive” ash-damage inspections of aircraft before and after each flight. They must also report any ash-related incidents.

Plane-makers have agreed to higher tolerance levels for aircraft flying through areas of low ash concentrations.

The decision was made after manufacturers, airlines, the British government and aviation bodies took account of new data and analysis that suggested flights could operate safely in certain circumstances.

Britain’s aviation authority’s chairwoman Dame Deirdre Hutton said that “some no-fly zones” would remain, but these would not affect UK airports.

A Downing Street spokesman said that UK prime minister Gordon Brown welcomed the decision by the CAA to allow UK airspace to be used.

British Airways will operate all long-haul flights from Heathrow and Gatwick but all short-haul flights remain cancelled until 1PM this afternoon. No flights have arrived or left Heathrow this morning.

Other airlines have warned that hundreds of flights may remain cancelled and urged passengers to contact them before making their way to airports.

The UK no-fly zone was dramatically lifted last night after a game of brinkmanship by British Airways (BA) head Willie Walsh. The BA chief executive sent 26 long-haul flights towards British airports and demanded that the air authorities allow them to land.

At first the planes heading towards Heathrow and Gatwick were turned away but last night Britain's aviation authority and air traffic control body NATS caved in and finally ended the flying ban.

Criticising authorities for closure of the airports leading the airlines to lose £200 million a day, Mr Walsh said last evening: “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.”


TCS inks global engineering services pact with Rolls-Royce

TCS will provide Rolls-Royce with a range of engineering services and support; will open a hub at Bengaluru

The country’s largest software exporter, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), today announced a global engineering services partnership with power systems company Rolls-Royce, reports PTI.

Under the agreement, TCS will provide Rolls-Royce with a range of engineering services and support across the entire product lifecycle, which will enable the UK-based company to expand its engineering services footprint in India, TCS said in a statement.

The Tata Group company will also set up an engineering centre to cater to Rolls-Royce design and engineering requirements in Bengaluru, it added. The deal size, however, was not disclosed.

“India is a strategically significant market as well as an increasingly important technology services location for Rolls-Royce. The new collaboration with TCS will give us additional quality and cycle-time advantages,” said Rolls-Royce India president Anil Shrikhande.

The aerospace and defence sectors have been a major focus area for TCS and it has significantly expanded its engineering capabilities in this field. The agreement represents an important milestone for TCS in the aeronautical sector, the statement said.

"This partnership with Rolls-Royce is significant to TCS. This will lead to high-quality engineering solutions and services from TCS for complex aero engines under the Rolls-Royce standards of excellence,” said TCS vice-president and global head for engineering and industrial services, Regu Ayyaswamy.

Rolls-Royce provides power systems and services for use across the civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy sectors. Its customer base includes more than 600 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft & helicopter operators, 160 armed forces and energy customers, in nearly 120 countries.


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