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20Apr/100

All UK Air Space Now Open After Iceland Volcanic Ash Cloud Levels Ruled Safe – Flights To Resume!

All UK airports have been given the go-ahead to reopen, the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has said.

After six days of disruption due to a cloud of volcanic ash from an Icelandic volcano, airlines can now start a phased return to flight schedules.

The decision followed consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority and a reassessment of the risk to aircraft.

BAA, which operates many of the UK's airports, said people should contact their airlines before travelling.

"Not all flights will operate during the early period of opening, and we will do everything we can to support airlines and get people moving," a spokesman said.

Some restrictions will remain on flights in UK airspace, but they will be much less severe than before.

Dame Deirdre Hutton, of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said there had been detailed consultation with experts to reassess the tolerance of planes to the ash cloud.

The CAA said it was a "situation without precedent" and that decisions had been made based on "thorough gathering of data and analysis".

'Increased tolerance'

"The major barrier to resuming flight has been understanding tolerance levels of aircraft to ash," the CAA said.

"Manufacturers have now agreed increased tolerance levels in low ash density areas."

Lord Adonis emphasised that safety remained paramount.

He said: "It is essential that we guarantee to the travelling public that the airlines are safe and that planes can safely fly."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "This solution has been reached as a result of the close working between the government, the Civil Aviation Authority, airlines and the manufacturers, and will allow the thousands of UK citizens stranded abroad to return home to their families.

 

There will be plenty of time for a post mortem of what has happened
Willie Walsh, British Airways

"We will of course continue to monitor the situation closely; as we have said throughout safety is our primary concern," he added.

Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said: "Labour must immediately commit to a full inquiry into this fiasco, which has caused so much travel misery and billions of pounds of economic damage.

"Six days into the crisis, we're suddenly told that there are actually levels of ash which are compatible with safe flying. The question angry passengers and airlines are already asking is why the government hadn't worked this out before the crisis occurred."

After the lifting of the restrictions, the first British Airways flight to touch down from Heathrow was a service already in the air from Vancouver, which landed shortly before 2200 BST.

The airline's chief executive Willie Walsh said he was pleased with the decision, but said it would take weeks to get back to normal levels of operation.

"We're now at British Airways going to start the difficult task of getting our stranded customers back home but I think this is an airlift that is unprecedented but we will make every effort to get our people back home."

 

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He said "lessons can be learned" and added: "There will be plenty of time for a post-mortem of what has happened over the last few days."

He said parts of the UK airspace could have been opened several days ago. "My personal belief is that we could have safely continued operating for a period of time. I think there were occasions when the decision to close airspace could have been justified."

EasyJet said it planned to resume "some services across the UK and continental Europe from tomorrow morning," but added that the level of disruption meant it would be several days before the schedule returned to normal.

Flights have been grounded across the UK and much of Europe since Thursday following the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull.

The eruption sent vast amounts of ash into the atmosphere which poses a threat to aircraft jet engines.

Despite the lifting of the ban, it will be some time before flights return to normal.

The UK Border Agency warned people to expect queues as staff attempt to process large numbers of returning travellers.

A spokesman said: "We are manning as many passport desks as possible."

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19Apr/100

Britain’s flight ban to be LIFTED tomorrow!

  • Scottish airspace to open at 6am, Midlands at 12pm, South at 6pm
  • Still 150,000 Britons stranded abroad, thousands miss school and work
  • Heathrow ramps up security amid fears of passenger deluge

The blanket ban on flying to and from the UK will be lifted as early as 6am tomorrow, airport sources revealed this afternoon.

Scottish airspace will reopen first, followed by the Midlands around midday and airports in the South at around 6pm.

A statement is expected later this afternoon but the news will come as a massive relief to the thousands of British travellers stranded abroad - although the backlog of flights is likely to take days to clear.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1267257/Iceland-volcano-eruption-UK-flight-ban-LIFTED-tomorrow.html#ixzz0lYwBdRfC