Air Canada flight leaves Toronto for Paris
A lone Air Canada jet departed Toronto for Paris's Charles De Gaulle Airport Monday evening, a tiny bit of good news in a frustrating five days for air travellers stranded by an ash-belching volcano in Iceland.
According to a travel update on Pearson International Airport's website, the flight took off at 8:02 p.m. ET, a mere two minutes after its scheduled departure time.
But the plane was carrying about 47 people across the Atlantic Ocean to Paris, leaving dozens more still stranded.
German carrier Lufthansa delayed its 6:40 p.m. flight destined for Frankfurt.
Of 1,080 total daily flights out of Pearson, 36 were listed as cancelled, or slightly more than 3 per cent.
Earlier in the day, France's consul general to Canada visited Pearson to meet with some of those stranded and increasingly annoyed French citizens.
Jerome Cauchard went to meet the travellers at the Air Canada counter to make sure each of them had a place to stay until they are able to catch a flight home.
The consulate is arranging emergency accommodations for those who need them through the non-profit group Toronto Accueil.
Cauchard's visit came as a group of French passengers briefly blocked an Air Canada ticket counter at the airport to protest the continuing delays and lack of information.
One woman told CTV News they go from desk to desk, waiting to see if there will be a flight home, but no one is telling them anything.
Another man who asked a ticket agent for a ticket to Europe in economy class said the agent offered him a more expensive business class ticket instead -- at $4,000. He said no thanks.
An official from the Belgian consulate is also expected to visit the airport Monday.
One man will be returning to Belgium by flying to Rome and then driving the remaining 1,500 kilometres to his homeland.
Monday's Air Canada flights to London, Munich and Berlin remain cancelled.
Air travel to Europe has been thrown into chaos since late last week, when the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano interfered with air routes to northern Europe. Experts have warned that the ash could harm plane engines.
One analyst has estimated the problem is costing Canadian air carriers at least $4 million per day in lost revenue.
However, the European Union said late Monday afternoon that some pockets are opening up in the ash plume and that more flights could resume on Tuesday. While about one-third of the North Atlantic skies would remain a no-fly zone immediately over the ash cloud, there are other areas being described as caution zones or even open skies.
A caution zone would see partial flight restrictions. Aircraft can fly subject to engine checks for damage.
This means some Canadians stranded in Europe can now hold out some hope of getting home sooner rather than later -- something that depends on the behaviour of the volcano and whether it continues to emit ash.
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman and files from The Canadian Press