…and I don’t know all of the regulations that exist country to country about flight termination, carrying within another country, etc. I do know how it works here in the United States, though. A foreign carrier can fly between two US destinations, but they cannot pick up anyone at the first destination to take to the second (ie. British Airways can fly a plane London to NYC, drop of half of their passengers, then take the other half on to Los Angeles and let them off). To do otherwise would be to run afoul of United States airline ownership laws.
But here’s the thing. We all know that there are emergencies that come up. And we all know that these issues have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The volcano that erupted in Iceland provides such an emergency. So how should we deal with it? Or rather, we KNOW how it is being dealt with – how should it HAVE been dealt with? I have my own ideas.
First of all, the fact is that NOT all of the airports in Europe have been closed. Madrid in Spain, and one or two other South European airports have been open a good while. Now of course Spain is the headquarters of Iberia Airlines. And Iberia is currently in merger talks with British Airways. British Airways, of course, is probably the biggest TransAtlantic carrier between London and NYC. So tell me why in the HELL did this not get played up? British Airways has jets parked here in the United States that can’t get home, as do other carriers. British Airways could pick up those passengers due to come back to Europe, and fly them to Madrid instead of Heathrow. From there, busses and trains could be pulling passengers to and from London. Sure, BA doesn’t normally fly say Chicago to Madrid, or LAX to Madrid. But if they can, and as long as they can coordinate with other carriers on gate use, etc, why the hell not?
Besides cooperation with other carriers, we would have to allow carrying to and from other points. British Airways has 329 seat and 281 seat 747s in their fleet, with other planes that can make the trip between the US and Spain holding 230 to 272 people. So have those planes leave wherever they area – say Los Angeles. If they have 50 open seats, then pick up 50 passengers in New York City or Boston. Then hoof it over the Atlantic, land in Madrid, and put people on busses or the train to London. Then pick up stranded people in Madrid – those that have come from London or other major airports, and head back to the United States. With the global downturn in airlines, I’m SURE that there are available gates that can be used at an open Spanish airport.
We could be moving thousands of people between Europe and the United States right now, with aircraft that are sitting dormant. And it doesn’t have to be just British Airways – other airlines should be jumping in as well. Hell, it will create overtime for workers (we would have to utilize pilots and flight attendants only to their statutory limits, but airport workers and temps could definitely use a boost) and put those out of work into jobs – albeit temporary.
So listen up, British Airways, Iberia, American Airlines, KLM, and others. Life presents challenges. Get around them. If we humans didn’t rise to our challenges in the past, we would still be living in caves, only dreaming of one day flying through the blue, ashy filled skies.