A new volcanic eruption in Iceland on Thursday, February 8, the third this year, led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the area.
Fountains of hot lava have been spewing into the air from a 3-kilometer fissure in the earth's surface since early Thursday morning, and the popular Blue Lagoon thermal spa resort has been forced to evacuate its guests and close for the third time since opening eruptions in the southwestern lands in December.
Water pipes (used in Iceland to heat homes and buildings) to nearby towns have been damaged by the lava flow, and workers are building a dam to protect the power station from being flooded by lava .
Icelandair recently responded to the decline in international flights by saying media coverage of recent volcanic eruptions had hurt bookings in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The airline said press coverage impacted sales in December and that the fourth quarter was a very important sales period in January. The number of tourists staying in Iceland fell 9% in January compared with the same period last year.
Data from travel analytics company ForwardKeys showed that international travel inquiries to Iceland fell last week by 62%. Following the first eruption of the Svartsengi volcano on January 14, international arrivals were down 10% compared to 2019.
The national carrier said in a statement that the latest eruption had not affected flight operations.
“Iceland is a volcanic island with many active volcanic systems. Eruptions and earthquakes are part of our DNA, and we Icelanders are always well prepared for volcanic events. The country's incredible nature has given us excellent training and experience to deal with unique situations."
The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland led to the closure of 300 airports in more than 24 countries, resulting in the cancellation of 107,000 flights throughout Europe within eight days. This accounted for about 48% of total air traffic and affected about 10 million passengers.
Meteorologists say the latest eruptions of the Reykjanes volcanic systems are unlikely to produce huge ash clouds because they are not locked under glaciers.