Freak volcano explosion disrupts air travel
Over the weekend, Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, erupted spewing ash that resulted in flight suspensions at Catania airport in Sicily. Meanwhile, in Mexico, the Popocatepetl volcano also exploded, bringing Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City to a temporary standstill. The recent eruptions have raised concerns about air travel disruptions and cancellation rights for passengers.
If your flight is cancelled due to the eruption of a volcano, the airline may not be required to offer compensation. Delays caused by volcanic activity are considered extraordinary, and airlines aren’t responsible for extraordinary circumstances unless they fail to provide adequate assistance, such as overnight accommodation, food and drink, to help passengers who are stranded.
While volcanic activity is easier to anticipate than storms and floods, eruptions are still considered freak weather events. If an event is described as wholly exceptional, such as volcanic activity, passengers aren’t entitled to compensation. That’s why it’s important to know your cancellation rights if you’re flying near an active volcano, as you may not be able to claim your airline for damages.
If your flight is affected by the knock-on effects of a different flight that was disrupted by a volcano, you might be able to claim compensation. For example, if your flight from Manchester to Paris is scheduled to depart, but an ash cloud from a nearby eruption has closed down air traffic, causing your flight to be cancelled, you may be able to file for damages.
To make matters worse, back in 2010, 10 million passengers were disrupted by the enormous ash cloud that reached eight kilometres into the atmosphere following Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption in Iceland. When such strange weather events happen, they’re not just limited to the areas with the active volcanoes. Anyone travelling by plane can be affected, so it’s essential to have a backup plan in place.
In summary, while volcanic eruptions are rare, they could still impair air travel and leave passengers stranded for an unknown amount of time. Although airlines are not obliged to pay out compensation under extraordinary circumstances, they have a duty to provide support and aid to impacted passengers.