Monday, May 23, 2011

Natural events in the news—Grimsvotn Volcano and Mt. Etna

We are tracking recent volcanic events. Here's the latest:

The eruption by Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano does not have any current impact on any of our programs. We will continue to monitor the situation into the summer travel season to determine any potential impact upon our flight plans for students headed to Europe. This year, the European air system has a much more developed and organized system than last year, which should help minimize any large scale flight disruptions like we saw last year when another Icelandic volcano erupted. [Update -Eurocontrol, Europe's air traffic agency, offers more information on its website.]

Secondly, Italy's Mount Etna became active for the second time this year. It is our understanding that there was some limited localized impact due to falling ash in the town of Catania and surrounding uninhabited areas. While the local airport closed temporarily, there was neither damage nor personal injuries. Prior to this eruption, the most recent activity happened back on January13, 2011. Before that, Mount Etna hadn't experienced any major volcanic activity since 1992.
  • While People to People Ambassador Programs has several itineraries that visit Italy each year, only one (Modern and Ancient Civilizations) has any activity located in the extreme southern region of Italy where the volcano is located.

  • Currently, that itinerary is scheduled to visit the area around Mount Etna for only one day during the program. If any adjustment is needed to ensure the safety of our delegates as we draw closer to the summer departure dates, we will reach out to those leaders and families of students traveling on the Modern and Ancient Civilizations program and inform them of the itinerary adjustment.

  • The next closest itineraries (Journey through the Ages and European Odyssey) are over 350 miles away with Naples as the most southern destination. We do not anticipate any impact on these programs, but will obviously continue to monitor the situation.
As always, I wish you all safe travels and a healthy life!

Mike Bowers

Senior Director of Health & Safety

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