Europe’s largest active volcano Mount Etna erupted on Sunday, forcing a slew of cancellations and delays to flights operating to and from Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA) in Sicily, Italy.
The volcanic eruption reportedly left runways and other parts of Catania, Sicily’s capital, covered in volcanic ash, with many services in and out of the airport suspended until 9 a.m. local time on Monday.
Catania-Fontanarossa Airport is just 32 km (20 miles) from Mount Etna. Before Mount Etna’s eruption, the airport was previously predicted to be the sixth busiest airport in Italy on Sunday, servicing more than 250 flights, according to flight data from Cirium.
A statement from CTA read: “Due to the eruptive activity of Etna and copious amounts of volcanic ash on the airport surfaces, flight operations are suspended until safety conditions are restored.”
Mount Etna erupts, raining ash on Catania, halts flights to Sicily's Catania airport
— Earth42morrow (@Earth42morrow) May 21, 2023
At least 68 flights to and from the airport were canceled as of 5 p.m. on Sunday (44 departing and 24 arrivals), including 23 flights operated by Ryanair and six EasyJet flights, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium. FlightAware data showed that cancellations amounted to 34% of flights at CTA, with 15% of flights being delayed.
This also comes on the heels of Mexico raising its alert level on the Popocatepetl volcano Sunday following an increase in tremors and ash explosions that shuttered airports nearby Mexico City and Puebla and placing millions on stand-by to evacuate immediately if this volcano erupts. This huge volcano that towers above Mexico City is considered one of the most dangerous in the world because some 25 million people live within a 60-mile radius.