Smoke and steam hangs over the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, Wednesday April 14, 2010, which has erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. Volcanic ash drifting across the Atlantic forced the cancellation of flights in Britain and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, stranding thousands of passengers. Flights in and out of London Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, were halted, and the shutdowns and cancellations spread to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. The volcano's smoke and ash poses a threat to aircraft because it can affect visibility, and microscopic debris can get sucked into airplane engines and can cause them to shut down.(AP Photo/Jon Gustafsson) ** ICELAND OUT **
AMSTERDAM (AP) - The electronic board at Europe's biggest airports are showing about 80 percent of flights on schedule today.
They are also pretty full. With more than 100,000 flights scrapped worldwide in the last week thanks to the ash cloud emitted by an Icelandic volcano, airlines today began filling vacant seats with travelers who have been stranded for days.
Airlines say their losses have topped $2 billion. The International Air Transport Association says economic fallout is worse than the three-day worldwide shutdown that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Still, scientists at a Swiss institute say an analysis of air samples collected over Zurich last weekend show the safety concerns were warranted.
And they say the volcano could be getting more dangerous. One scientist says the composition of the magma is changing and could become more explosive. If that continues or a second nearby volcano erupts, Peter Ulmer says it could last for weeks and be similar to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii in 79 A.D.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)