Wednesday, April 21, 2010

FP morning post 4/21

Europe's ash crisis coming to an end

Top news: Britain's Heathrow airport became the last major European hub to reopen on Tuesday night, ending -- for now -- an unprecedented six-day closure of the continent's airspace by ash from Iceland Eyjafjallajokul volcano.

Airlines are believed to have lost more than $1.7 billion to the crisis, which lasted twice as long as the closure of U.S. airspace after the 9/11 attacks and resulted in more than 100,000 cancelled trips.

Eyjafjallajokul continues to erupt -- and scientists have no way of knowing how long it will continue, but winds are now blowing the ash west, away from the continent. Restrictions remain in place over parts of Britain, Ireland, and France but the cloud is expected to leave the continent completely by Wednesday night.

Questions are now being raised -- particularly by struggling airlines -- over whether the blanket bans were necessary and whether governments owe carriers compensation for the closures. Giovanni Bisignani, director of the International Air Transport Association, said at a news conference in Berlin: "For an industry that lost $9.4 billion last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8 billion in 2010, this crisis is devastating," Bisignani said. "Governments should help carriers recover the cost of this disruption."

Unsolved cases: The Committee to Protect Journalists cited 12 countries where journalists' murders have not been solved -- including Russia, Mexico, and India -- on its new Impunity Index.

  • Kyrgyzstan's interim government will seek the extradition of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from Belarus.
  • Two North Korean spies posing as refugees were arrested in South Korea for allegedly plotting to assassinate a high-profile defector.
  • The red-shirt protesters in Bangkok are building barricades in preparation for a confrontation with the Thai military.
Middle East
  • The last leader of Argentina's military dictatorship was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
  • A U.N. court delivered a long-awaited ruling on the use of a shared river between Argentina and Uruguay.
  • Supporters of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega rioted as opposition lawmakers met to overturn a decree extending the term of judges.
-By Joshua Keating


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