Volcano’s aviation woes touch Vail
VAIL – A crazy nightmare.That’s how one Vail Valleyl travel agent described the volcano eruption that has grounded travel in Europe.Here in the Vail Valley, travel agents have been scrambling to help clients who are stuck in Europe or waiting here, trying to get to Europe.”We’ve been working nonstop since the airports closed,” said Cindy Steimle, a travel agent with Talbot Travel in Eagle-Vail.With a vast stretch of European airspace closed in recent days, a number of people traveling between Vail and Europe have joined the ranks of passengers with canceled flights.Representatives from Talbot Travel said they’ve been working with nearly 30 clients whose trips have been affected by the volcano eruption in Iceland.Vail folks who went to Europe to ski are among the travelers, Steimle said. So are business people stuck in Italy and locals who are still here in the Vail Valley, facing delays trying to get to France or England, she said.Also, the travel agency has been fielding calls from locals who are worried about their upcoming trips to Europe, as well as Europeans who are currently visiting and unsure how to get home.”We’re talking about quite a large number of people who are concerned,” Steimle said.At Overland & Express Travel in Edwards, owner Jan Strauch reports about 40 clients whose travel plans were affected by the volcano. Some are business people who were grounded in London, Rome or Dubai.The Eagle County airport has not been affected, terminal manager Chris Anderson said. The airport does not have direct flights to Europe but international travelers can come into the Gypsum airport on connecting flights.”We don’t have a lot of international or European travelers coming here this time of year,” Anderson said.Europe began to emerge from a volcanic cloud Monday, allowing limited air traffic to resume and giving hope to millions of travelers stranded around the world when ash choked the jet age to a halt.Even then, however, the eruption from the Icelandic volcano that caused the five days of aviation chaos was said to be strengthening and sending more ash toward Britain, which could make it unlikely that London airports would reopen Tuesday.European Union transport ministers reached a deal during a crisis videoconference to divide northern European skies into three areas: a “no-fly” zone immediately over the ash cloud; a caution zone “with some contamination” where planes can fly subject to engine checks for damage; and an open-skies zone.Starting Tuesday morning, “we should see progressively more planes start to fly,” said EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press Contributed to this story.