Despite the possibility of volcanic eruptions as part of the current seismic activity in Iceland, there is little threat to air traffic from airborne ash.
Any lava emerging from the earth is likely to pour out of a fissure—rather than shoot out as part of a major explosive event—resulting in fewer particles being projected into the atmosphere. This fact reduces the chance of a repeat of 2010’s global air traffic chaos, when the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull created huge clouds of ash.
However Keflavík—the main international airport in Iceland—is on the Reykjanes peninsula, about 20km from the main area of seismic activity. Consequently there is a chance that airport access could be cut off if lava emerges from the ground, and flows over the road to the airport. Iceland’s air traffic authorities have therefore created contingency plans both for a road closure scenario and for airborne ash, Austurfrétt reports.
In addition to Keflavík, Iceland has three other airports of reasonable size at Reykjavík, Akureyri and Egilsstaðir. In the event that Keflakík were to close, it would be the decision of airlines whether to use an alternative airport.
In the case of airborne ash from a volcanic eruption, a 220km no-fly zone would be placed around the volcano while the Meteorological Office investigated atmospheric conditions. It would then be the decision of airline operators whether to use Keflavík, use an alternative airport, or not to fly.
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