The Iceland volcano ash fallout: Analytics, risk avoidance vs. management

The ash resulting from a volcano eruption in Iceland is still wreaking havoc on airlines, travelers and potentially European economies as airports remain largely closed. Did European governments overreach on risk avoidance?

The ash resulting from a volcano eruption in Iceland is still wreaking havoc on airlines, travelers and potentially European economies as airports remain largely closed. Did European governments overreach on risk avoidance?

That question looms large as the ash from a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland continues to have large ramifications for air travel. Analytics is a key topic in both management and information technology. Why? Every entity is trying to see around corners.

As a cloud of volcanic ash covered Europe, it was hard to argue with the government bodies that initially shut down airspace . We covered the reasons in detail on Thursday. But now that air travel is hampered for the fifth day over volcanic ash some critics are starting to emerge. What's the balance between risk avoidance and risk management? And what analytic tools are at our disposal to strike that balance.

On Monday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) criticized European governments over the airspace restrictions following the Iceland volcanic eruption.

Among the key points from the IATA:

  • The crisis is costing airlines $200 million a day in lost revenue;
  • The European economy is suffering;
  • There's little coordination among governments;
  • And the methodology for closing airspace was questionable.

Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said in a statement that the methodology for closing airspace was based on theoretical modeling of the ash cloud. In other words, the IATA is questioning the models and analytics behind European governments' decisions. He said:

Governments have not taken their responsibility to make clear decisions based on facts. Instead, it has been the air navigation service providers who announced that they would not provide service. And these decisions have been taken without adequately consulting the airlines. This is not an acceptable system particularly when the consequences for safety and the economy are so large.

Meanwhile, airlines have conducted test flights and not shown any safety issues. In addition, operational procedures---takeoff, descent and inspection processes---can be tweaked to resume flights. The IATA now wants to get the United Nations involved to define responsibilities of governments in similar situations.

What's the balance between risk avoidance and management?

Related video:

Volcanic ash and the environmental effects:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Volcanic ash explained:

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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