The jobsworth government regulators who have strapped the UK's airliners to the ground for the last week are in a real pickle.
Because these idiots have no skin in the game, and because they like flexing their muscles every now and again, they were far too quick off the mark to ban flights last week. But they had set a precedent. Even with microscopic amounts of volcanic ash in the air, they had banned flights. So to preserve their face and dignity, and to heck with the economic consequences to everyone else, they have felt obliged to keep the ban going in the face of the mounting evidence against them.
But now they don't know what to do, because the UK government is in an election and it wants everything to appear rosy
Alas, it is getting no traction from the idea that it is managing another Dunkirk or another Falklands war. It is now also perceived by most sensible people that the regulators over-reacted and that the ban should be lifted. Government ministers, who can also see a huge loss in tax revenue and economic blight, are even making stuff up about 'massively falling' levels of ash, when the true picture is that the ash levels are about the same as they were last week (i.e. microscopic).
And so now we have one level of government (in Europe) ordering another level of government (in the UK) to open up its airspace. But this second level of government is having trouble ordering a third level of government (the regulators at NATS and the Meteorological Office) to lift the ban.
Having set a stupid precedent, these regulators are now terrified that if they lift the ban with the same levels of ash as there were last week, then it will be seen by one and all that the original ban was unnecessary, and that they were wrong to impose it.
As well as having to publicly admit their stupidity, they may well leave themselves open to massive legal and compensatory compensation claims from the victims of their zealousness; the airlines and their passengers.
So rather than admit their mistake and lift their flying ban, these regulators are going to drag this misery out even further to simply prove a point, and only lift the ban when they are good and ready.
So, you ask, what would happen in Maturin World's vision of a free Britain?
Simple. Most airlines would probably have contracts with private meteorological companies to provide them with weather data. The airlines would take this data and judge whether it was safe to fly or not. Pilots would take the final decision on all take-offs. There would have been some disruption, particularly on flights heading anywhere near Iceland, but not much. (And I'll take the safety record of the private airline industry over the government-managed roads any day of the century.)
Passengers, of course, as RESPONSIBLE ADULTS rather than MORONIC SHEEPLE would be asked to sign a legal waiver at the gate, after being given the latest weather report. They would be told that the pilot was happy to take off and would then be asked if they were themselves prepared to board the plane.
Crikey. Adult Britons being given a choice! The mind boggles. But assuming they were actually capable of taking this mind-bending decision of getting on a plane given all available information, given 50 years of "You will be a moron" state education, we would have resolved the situation.
And don't give me any rubbish about that BA plane that lost all four engines. It flew unawares right over the top of an exploding volcano. And yet that one incident has given rise to this entire week-long ban.
Government is useless. It always has been. And it always will be.