A Thursday in April 2010, 8:15 a.m., as I enter what used to be a small hybrid carrier’s office I was working for at the time, greeted by a colleague, who seems to be petrified with horror. “The Innsbruck flight cannot take off because of the volcanic eruption.”, he yells at me. Flabbergasted, I reply: “There’s a volcano near Innsbruck?”.
Now, almost four years later, I have learnt not only the exact position of the volcano in question but also how to spell and pronounce it: Eyjafjallajökull. More importantly: not even 9/11 had that aftermath of days with zero aviation in Europe, but this Icelandic Janus-faced juggernaut taught us how to deal with it, first by having to accept nature’s sovereignty, later by catching up on air passages in literally round the clock operations for another week. There are no cookbook recipes for incidents like these – the least for the policy-maker – but have we experienced enough to be less perplexed and better prepared next time?
That was a memorable week: those opening lines from my colleague, followed by silent days in the air (communication still being hot), then a breathtaking output by everyone, finally back to normal. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin” (William Shakespeare)