Eyjafjallajokull Eruption: U.K. Flight Cancellations Extended
Ongoing Volcano Eruption In Iceland Causes Flight Delays To Be Extended
The volcano eruption underneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland continues to send plumes of smoke and ash into the air, causing British aviation officials to extend flight cancellations enacted early Thursday. Initially, UK halted air traffic across the country until 1 a.m. EDT Friday. But later today, Britain's Air Traffic Control Service Provider (NATS) advised that flight restrictions remain in place in the U.K. controlled airspace until 13:00 U.K. time on Friday, April 16.
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However, not all flights have been grounded. Flights from Northern Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland to and from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick may be allowed in the period from 0100 (UK time) to 1300 (UK time) tomorrow subject to individual co-ordination.
NATS will issue another update at 02:30 U.K. time on Friday to advise the arrangements that will be in place through 18:00 tomorrow.
The agency says the situation cannot be said to be improving as the forecast affected area appears to be closing in from east to west. It is feared that volcanic ash might impede visibility and interfere with plane's mechanical systems. There are no reports as to when flights might resume. The decision to close British airspace was backed by U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who says safety is of the highest importance.
Affected passengers are advised not to travel to their departure airports, but contact their airline for re-ticketing information instead.
In addition to the U.K., flights have also been grounded in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. There are emerging reports of flights being halted in Poland and Spain as well.
Up to 600,000 people are thought to have been affected and up to 5,000 flights could be cancelled.
The Civil Aviation Authority said the shutdown was the biggest since the Second World War.