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GP Week : Issue 79
F1 NEWS >> THE F1 circus has been trickling back to Europe in dribs and drabs ever since the conclusion of last Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. The now infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland caused the majority of airspace over Europe to be closed for safety reasons from the Thursday before the race, and with the no-fly period continuing into last week, many people had to arrange alternative ways of returning home. Most had made it back to Europe by Wednesday though, at the time of writing, many F1-related folk are still stranded in Shanghai. However, with the next grand prix just under two weeks' away, there is still time for everyone to be home and dry before the action kicks off for the start of the European season. Read more about the race to get home in GP WEEK editor Adam Hay-Nicholls' column. F1 travel chaos after Icelandic volcano eruption MALAYSIAN low-cost airline AirAsia stole a march on its fellow F1 rivals in the aftermath of the Chinese Grand Prix, when it helped numerous F1 personnel return to Europe amid the chaos caused by Iceland's erupting volcano. After seeing his team's travel plans disrupted by the volcanic ash, Lotus team principal and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes was quick on his feet to organize a special F1 flight from Kuala Lumpur to London, leaving fellow F1 airline rivals Virgin and Kingfisher (owners of Virgin Racing and Force India respectively) in his wake. The first task at hand was getting all his passengers to Kuala Lumpur for the onward journey to London Stansted, and once the airspace over London had reopened, Fernandes was there to ensure everyone was on the plane for take-off. "I'm delighted everyone's made it back to Norfolk safe and sound," said Fernandes after shepherding his crew back to England on Thursday. "The AirAsia team in KL worked extremely hard to ensure we could get everyone on the first flight out, and with the extremely tight timelines they're working to between now and the departure dates for Barcelona, it was vital we could get them all home as soon as possible. "We were fully prepared for the journey back, and when I gave the team a tour of the AirAsia Academy at Sepang on Tuesday, I showed them the simulators where our pilots had been through rigorous training for flying through volcanic ash. Tough times often produce amazing results, and the team has bonded even more closely through these trying times, both internally and with the AirAsia team who helped them out. They knew they were in safe hands and it's great we could get them back ahead of most of the grid!" Virgin and King sher left in the shade AirAsia comes to the rescue For your daily dose of Formula 1 news ... 9