Cancelled. Cancelled. Cancelled. That was the only known word flipped on all the Flight Schedule Boards across more than 20 European countries at midday on 15th April, 2010! I could only imagine the initial thoughts that delved into the minds of the travellers seeing their flights cancelled just like that, right before their eyes. With the snap of the finger! “Oh no, not another STRIKE!”. That would be the classical thought in everyone’s mind at that instant. Right, strikes are quite a norm in Europe, anyway. LOL ! But no, not THAT day. It was just a day after the ice-capped crater in Iceland emitted plume of ashes and created a perfect pandemonium all across North, East and West Europe. Millions of holiday-makers, tourists, students and teachers on study trips and business-trippers were stranded all across the globe. The European air spaces were shutdown to zero operation mode, which I understood, saw the biggest grounding of aircraft since the Second World War! And yet before all these happened, no one had heard of Eyjafjallajökull (not known outside of Iceland or the Nordic, at least), and now, probably one of the most widely spoken words (in Europe for sure). Even my 9-year old son can say the word rather fluently now 😀
The ash clouds hovering above Europe, resulted in massive financial losses in global aviation. Uh-uh, not a good sign at all. The scale is lopsided. If you don’t give a hoot about this, think twice. The effect of these losses is a global issue. Like it or not, we are all impacted. We are indirectly helping the airline industries to recuperate these losses. That’s why we now hear of airfares going up by 5.2% and the oil price taking off. So, the next time you visit your favourite Sarawak Laksa stall and ended up paying an additional Twenty Sen, don’t blame the vendor. If you don’t already know, there are more than 20 herbs and spices in the most flavourful Sarawak Laksa paste, which I understood, are imported from as far as Egypt, Iran, China and India. You can’t use a “sampan” or swing from tree to tree to reach these destinations to pick up your herbs and spices. Darn, airplanes have become the dominant form of world travel, causing globalization. Thanks to the Wright brothers 😉
On the other hand, for some people, the 5-day grounding of the airplanes was the best captured moment of their entire life. These are folks who have lived around Zaventem for years. While they are used to the noise of the airplanes, the forced shutdown of the Brussels airspace meant it was possible to hear the birds sing! How sweet. The unexpected peace and quiet also meant that earplugs were not necessary, and the triple glazing windows could be left opened without being drowned by the noise from the planes. Phew ! What a welcome relief for a change for these folks.
I had colleagues who were stranded while on business trip abroad. Well, it was not bad at all if you were stranded in Hong Kong :-D. I am sure there were worst case scenarios. I read of passengers stranded at the airports worldwide having to rough it out, sleeping on cots amidst the fluorescent lights and the incessant blaring of the public address system. It was the least comfortable situation. I can vouch for that because my family and I have gone through similar condition, except that it was not ash-induced but an air strike (I’ve warned you about this earlier, ie, some European airports are famous for their striking habit), and we did not get to sleep on cots, but WYSIWYG. It was not at all comfortable. A total nightmare, if I must say.
When Mount Pinatubo in The Philippines erupted in 1991, the global temperature dropped by 0.5°C. Of course people were speculating that the aftermath of Eyjafjallajökull would cause a global cooling as well. Even if there was a global drop in temperature, I would suspect that the global warming far exceeds this minute drop in temperature. By the way, the volcano with the tongue-twisting name succeeded in chilling out and paralysing global air travel 😉
Have a great weekend and see you next week!