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Flights to Europe from Twin Cities resuming

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Volcano under Icelandic glacier
In this image made available by the Icelandic Coastguard taken Wednesday April 14, 2010, smoke and steam rises from the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland.
Icelandic Coastguard/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Delta Airlines operates flights to three European cities every day from the Twin Cities -- at least it did until the cloud of volcanic ash halted those flights.  

Today, Delta president Ed Bastian said the planes are getting back in the air.  

"Our trans-Atlantic operations have clearly been impacted by the European airspace closure due to the volcanic ash this past weekend," Bastian said. "We canceled roughly 400 trans-Atlantic flights through yesterday."

Bastian says he expects Delta to be in what he called "full recovery mode" over the next three to five days. 

The Atlanta-based airline stands to suffer losses of $20 million or more because of the disruption. 

Other businesses with a large Minnesota presence are not likely to suffer such a large impact. The most apparent impact here seems to be the disruption of individual travelers' plans. 

Arjan Helle arrived in the Twin Cities yesterday after a business trip out west, but he's only here because his flight home to Amsterdam last Saturday was canceled.  He's now booked on a flight on Friday.  While he's been doing some work while he's been stuck, he also plans to have some fun in the Twin Cities while he's here.  

"Tomorrow I'm going on a Segway tour, I'm sure there's some time left for shopping as well," Helle said. "My daughter already e-mailed me, suggesting that she thought I might have some time to do a little bit of shopping that I wasn't supposed to have before."

It's not clear if Helle's unexpected stay in the Twin Cities will be good for the hospitality industry since it's offset by travelers who were supposed to come here and didn't.  

The volcanic ash also interfered with plans for those heading overseas.  A group from Bemidji was supposed to leave last Thursday for a 10-day tour of France.  Now they're trying to reschedule the trip for the fall or for next spring.  

Even as air service starts getting back to normal, convention planners say they're keeping their eyes on the volcano. 

"We're really closely monitoring the situation, trying to work with meeting planners on what their needs are and what changes they may need to make," said Bill Deef,  vice president of international relations for Meet Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association. "And then with the leisure travel industry to look at what the expectation is for the summer months, as least for the short term."

Tthey're hoping for the best since scientists say the current eruption could trigger and even larger eruption of another volcano in Iceland.  That could lead to more disruptions to air travel, depending on the prevailing winds.