Airlines regain momentum in wake of ash cloud

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Even as planes once again took to the air worldwide Wednesday and airlines increased flights to and from Europe, authorities said it might take some time to get back to normal.

"While we are now increasingly able to reinstate our schedule, conditions are still subject to change. We expect it to take several days for everyone to be able to resume travel," Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said.

While there is still a notice on the air carrier's website saying flights could be delayed to the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Switzerland, Air Canada operated a full-flight schedule of 30 flights on Wednesday to and from Europe.

"As we are seeing success in getting through to our customers to early up their reservations, we are adding a Toronto-London flight and Zurich flight

(Wednesday) evening from Toronto that will return tomorrow to help customers get on their way as soon as possible. In addition, we are upgrading tomorrow's Toronto-London Daytripper flight," Arthur said.

She noted their call centre is getting many phone calls, so people might want to check online or with their travel agency instead of waiting on the phone. As well, she said they've eliminated change fees to help people who have to postpone their travel plans and they have been offering refunds for cancelled flights.

Despite the good news for travellers, flights could be delayed in the future.

In an update on its website Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said that travellers should continue to expect delays.

"We understand that the current situation may be highly inconvenient to many Canadians and we hope commercial air traffic will resume in a safe and timely fashion," the DFAIT said.

Still, the scene at many airports across the country has been joyous, as family members stuck in Europe have made their way home.

The first plane to land at London's Heathrow airport in five days was a flight from Vancouver.

The chaos started last week when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted, sending a plume of ash into airspace. Planes that went through the ash would have experienced limited visibility and particles in the ash cloud could damage engines. Flights were grounded on both sides of the Atlantic as officials waited for the ash to clear.

Although the ash cloud initially started to move into Canada, Environment Canada says it will not reach Montreal, as was once expected.

"The direction of the wind in Iceland without a doubt pushed the ash particles towards the north of England," Environment Canada's Rene Servranckx told QMI Agency.


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