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Icelandic volcano and French rail strike affect WMRHS trip

April 21, 2010
LANCASTER — The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull volcano last Saturday have left thousands stranded in airports across the world, as flights in and out of most of Europe have been deemed unsafe. A group of foreign language students from White Mountains Regional High School could be included in that number, as they wrap up their school trip to France and Spain.

"The volcano hasn't affected them too much," said Whitefield parent Zina Schmidt of the group's pre-eruption departure. "They didn't get the best weather."

However, their trip did meet another unexpected disruption with the continuation of the French railway workers' strike that started two weeks ago, said Assistant Principal Mike Berry.

The group, who spent the beginning of their trip in and around Paris, was planning to travel via overnight train to Madrid on Sunday night, explained parent Melissa Grima. The rail strike made this impossible and with air travel out of the question, the group decided to charter a bus.

"They ended up leaving on Monday morning on a 15-hour bus ride," said Ms. Grima. "Instead of an hour-and-a-half plane ride, they end up losing a day."

The students are scheduled to fly out on Thursday morning, April 22, from Madrid's Barajas Airport, with a layover in the Zurich Airport before flying into Boston's Logan Airport late Thursday night. However, this plan could prove problematic. Though Spain remains one of the few European countries whose airports remain open, Switzerland does not.

"As of right now," said Ms. Schmidt. "They are still scheduled to fly out."

Until then, the students must wait to see if Eyjafjallajoekull will continue to wreak havoc and extend their European adventure.

Update: As of Tuesday morning news reports out of Europe revealed that Swiss airspace was being reopened, but a second ash cloud making its way from Iceland could cause further disruption.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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