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Innovative response to the closing of European airspace

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Ash being produced by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano

Eyjafjallajökull fallout from the April 14 2010 eruption shut down northern Europe's airspace. This unprecedented event had major repercussions on people's transport plans, grounding flights across northern Europe from 15 April onwards. Since innovation is the child of necessity it will be interesting to see what innovative ideas came from the event.


April 15


Twitter enables the broadcasting of short messages which can be read by people. Its lightweight and simple interface combined with the popularity it already left Twitter brilliantly placed to be utilised in this situation. Twitter was used for asking for, and advertising, transport and accommodation. The #stranded (April 15) and #getmehome (April 18) hashtags are being used for this purpose. Other tags such as #volcano (took off after March 20 eruption) and #ashtag (April 15) have been used to tag tweets about Eyjafjallajökull in general.

People and Taxi companies have started selling lifts in cars on Twitter. [1] [2]


airBaltic begins warning people via its Facebook page that the ash may cause interferences, before confirming this is so later the same day. airBaltic continues to release information and advice to people via its Facebook page.


In response to the grounding of flights, Eurostar has run 33 extra trains carrying 50,000 more people than it expected to in the four days from Thursday 15 to Monday 19. Eurostar has also temporarily decreased the cost of a standard class ticket. [3]


Wikipedia article 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull was split out from the Eyjafjallajökull article, (600 edits by 20 April 2010). 100,000 viewings in first three days.[4]

April 16


Ash layer added to real time air traffic monitor, RadarVirtuel on April 16.

When Volcanoes Erupt

When Volcanoes Erupt: A survival guide, April 16, is an example of a Facebook group established by a private individual.

Roadsharing appears to have become a popular choice for people travelling across Europe while the no fly zone is in effect. They have a twitter feed which one can use to check for appropriate journeys, it links to their site's appropriate page. Roadsharing existed well before the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruptions. The occasional mention of other carpooling services is seen, such as in the Red Ferret post but RoadSharing is the most noticeable in under the ash than any others.

Coach attempt 1

Claire Boonstra tried to organise a bus journey from Cannes to Amsterdam, but she ended up car sharing back instead, it appears the people she car shared with were people she knew before the Ash Cloud event. [5]. Other occasional tweets have been seen of people sharing minibuses and vans. [6]


Wikipedia article Air travel disruption after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption is split from 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull (1200 edits by 20 March 2010) and viewed 200,000 times in the first three days.[7]

April 17

Office Hours London

On April 17 Chris Fralic, a managing partner of First Round, was stuck in London for the Skoll forum so decided to run an impromptu "Office Hours".[8] This event was Office Hours London, the first of First Round Capital's "Office Hours" to be held outside of North America and took place at The Hub, King's Cross on Sunday, April 18. [9]

TEDx Volcano

TEDx Volcano was suggested on the 17 April and took place 36 hours later on April 18. TEDx are independent, sanctioned, TED events. It had 600 attendees. . Web streaming important, as was current social web and communications, such as [ twitter] and Eventbrite in setting up the event. Nathaniel Whittemore was the team leader in making this happen, stranded Skoll Foundation and Ted people were used to help make it reality. It took place in The Hub, Kings Cross.[10] A video of the event had 6600 viewers within 24 hours. [11]


Wikipedia article Aftermath of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption is slit from Air travel disruption after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption which covers wider political and economic impacts. It was view 36,000 times in the first three days.[12]

April 18

Volcano Help

Websites have adapted to the ash cloud quickly. Notably which sprang up on April 18 to help stranded people. The site reports having 7000 visitors after being online for 5 hours. [13]

Car Pool Europe

Facebook groups have been created for people looking for places to stay and to find carpools. Car Pool Europe is one of the larger of such Facebook groups, and was set up by a Swedish Carpool company Skjutsgruppen on April 18.

BBC blog

A BBC blog on how social media has been used following the eruption was written on April 18.

April 19

Red Ferret

On April 19 a comprehensive blog article on how to cope without aviation transport was published on Red Ferret.

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet made 12 guides to large European cities free, from Monday April 19 till Thursday April 22, while the ash cloud is keeping flights grounded so that stranded people are able to find their way around their location. [14]

Dezeen (design blog)

helped people stuck in Milan (for the furniture fair) get on trains and organise buses. [15]

April 20

First coach success?

A successful attempt to organise a group coach seems to have occurred in Barcelona, where EVarley and some others arranged a coach to Calais. [16]

UK Government Response

The UK Government choose three warships to recover stranded UK nationals, of which only one picked up stranded Britons: 200 from Spain. Downing Street also hired a number of coaches to pick up people from Spanish airports, 5 coaches collected passengers on April 20, with a promise of over 100 to be realised on April 21. [17]

BBC World Service

On April 20, BBC World Service's Digital Planet runs a section on the Ash Cloud, its effect and the response from the internet social media. The section reaches the conclusion that it helped people "organise without organisation", citing it as a win for the internet over the government's slow response.[18]

April 21


On April 21 Comuto, a French car sharing application, reports that their website's traffic more than doubled in the days following the eruption of the Icelandic Volcano. [19] This looks to be the first statement from a carpooling company about the effect that the ash cloud has had on their business.


  1. Airport Taxi NL
  2. Eric Larch
  3. #getmehome, social media and stranded travellers - BBC blogs
  4. 2010_eruptions_of_Eyjafjallajökull has been viewed 95596 times in 201004
  5. Claire Boo - Twitter
  6. JJJ79 - Twitter
  7. Air_travel_disruption_after_the_2010_Eyjafjallajökull_eruption has been viewed 216232 times in 201004
  8. Thanks to the #ash, a rare opportunity for startups to meet a legendary VC in London - TechCrunch Europe
  9. Volcano Office Hours - Chris Fralic, Nothing To Say
  10. TEDx Volcano - Sandbox
  11. TEDx Volcano video -
  12. Aftermath_of_the_2010_Eyjafjallajökull_eruption has been viewed 36738 times in 201004
  13. Press release -
  14. iPhone Guides - Lonely Planet.
  15. dezeen stuck in Milan - Marcus. Dezeen
  16. EVarley - Twitter
  17. British travellers frustrated over government's failed rescue - Guardian newspaper
  18. Digital Planet - BBC World Service
  19. French carpooling platform Comuto profits from volcanic cloud

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