Obama To Leave Ireland Early To Avoid Ash In Air From Icelandic Volcano

May 23, 2011

For the second year in a row, President Obama's travel plans have been disrupted by volcanic eruptions in Iceland.

The White House announced a short time ago that instead of departing Dublin for London on Tuesday, Air Force One will take the president and his aides to London tonight.

Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement saying that the change in schedule is "due to a recent change in the trajectory in the plume of volcanic ash."

That would be ash from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano, which as Korva noted earlier started erupting on Saturday.

In April 2010, the president did not attend the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria because of ash that was floating over parts of Europe because of another Icelandic eruption — that one from the volcano known as Eyjafjallajokull.

The concern is that particles in the air could damage jet engines.

While last year's eruption, as The Associated Press says, "prompted aviation officials to close Europe's airspace for five days," so far this week officials have been saying they expect only modest disruptions in air travel. As of now, the White House does not expect any other changes in Obama's schedule.

The president arrived in Ireland today. His trip is due to last six days and take him to four countries. The others are France and Poland. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.