It seems that the unprecedented closure of airspace across Britain and large parts of Northern Europe is set to continue into the weekend, after the volcanic eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland has sent a massive plume of ash into the atmosphere. News sites report that airlines are preparing to ground flights for at least four more days. So overseas visitors to the London Book Fair might be rather thin on the ground this year.
"The London Book Fair is monitoring all information relating to the announcement of temporary UK airport closures due to the volcanic ash in the atmosphere. So far the BBC are reporting temporary closures until 0100 BST on Saturday April 17th."
The UK National Air Traffic Service has safety as its priority and rightly so. If they allowed one aeroplane to fly and it crashed what then? Yes, a drastic and serious loss of life and a huge law suit. All UK airports have been shut down. Airports in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, France, Denmark, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands have also been affected and several thousand flights have been cancelled.
International publishers are a huge feature of London Book Fair. South Africa is the Market Focus at this year's London Book Fair with Chinese and Russian authors, and Arabian poets in the line-up of seminars and talks, not to mention rights agents from Europe and publishers and agents due in from America.
But let's spare some time to think not only of those whose travel plans have been disrupted but also those 800 and more people who have been displaced in Iceland due to widespread flooding caused by the eruption. What's missing a mere book fair in comparison to that?
Here’s hoping it all blows over soon and that the Icelanders can get back to their homes.