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5May/100

Northern Irish and Scottish Airport close over new ash cloud fears

Airports in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland closed from 0700 BST because of risks from volcanic ash, the Civil Aviation Authority has said.

Glasgow, Prestwick and Derry are likely to be closed all day, while there are plans to shut Inverness in the morning only, and Belfast in the afternoon.

The CAA advised air passengers to check with airports before travelling and warned the situation was changeable.

Last month, volcanic ash clouds from Iceland grounded flights for six days.

The situation in the skies has been changing hour by hour, meaning the picture for air travellers is unclear.

Dublin Airport will also close from 1100 BST until further notice.

Forecasts show the 60 nautical mile buffer zone imposed around high concentrations of ash is close to some northern airports.

AIRPORT CLOSURES
Glasgow 0700-1900
Prestwick 0700-1900
Inverness 0700-1300
Stornoway 0700-1900
Benbecula 0700-1900
Tiree 0700-1900
Islay 0700-1900
Barra 0700-1900
Campbeltown 0700-1900
Derry 0700-1900
Belfast International 1300-1900
Belfast City 1300-1900
Dublin 1100-onwards
All times in BST. Source: CAA at 0200 BST

However, the latest advice issued by the CAA at 0200 BST said airports in Edinburgh and north-west England could safely stay open on Wednesday, despite the proximity of the ash.

The CAA says the South East of England is unlikely to be affected on Wednesday.

In a statement, the CAA said: "The situation remains changeable, so passengers expecting to travel from airports in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North of England and north Wales should contact their airlines to check whether their flight is operating."

 

 

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4May/100

Flight ban in Ireland and parts of UK over new Volcanic ash cloud risk

All flights in and out of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have been grounded since 0700 BST because of fresh risks from volcanic ash.

Airspace over Scotland's Outer Hebrides was closed, affecting Tiree, Barra and Benbecula airports, with Campeltown in Argyll also closed.

Flights in and out of the Republic are due to resume from 1300 BST.

An ash plume is drifting south from the same Icelandic volcano that wreaked havoc to European air travel in April.

Flights over Europe were banned for six days last month because of fears of the effect of volcanic ash on plane engines.

In the rest of the UK, schedules are operating as normal.

The decision to lift the restrictions followed safety tests that showed the engines could cope in areas of low density ash.

The fresh disruption comes as European Union transport ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss ways to improve air traffic management in the wake of last month's events.

Last week a spokeswoman for EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said that had there been more co-ordination at EU level, air traffic could have resumed up to three days earlier.

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22Apr/100

Airlines want compensation for Ash Cloud closures!

Heathrow Airport was granted permission for more night landings

Heathrow Airport was granted permission for more night landings

Airlines want compensation for the volcanic ash disruption, estimated to have cost the industry more than £1bn.

Ryanair has now said it will abide by EU rules and and pay for stranded passengers' food and accommodation.

The Civil Aviation Authority has rejected accusations that it was too slow in reopening UK airspace.

Almost all flights across Europe are expected to go ahead on Thursday.

Huge numbers of passengers stranded by the flight ban are still finding their own way back, however.

Ryanair U-turn

Many airlines are angry at the length of the airspace ban and its knock-on cost to them.

In addition to seeking compensation, some - including Ryanair - had objected to paying the hotel and food bills of stranded passengers.

If governments close airspace, the governments should reimburse passengers, not the airlines
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary

Under EU regulations, if a flight is cancelled then those passengers flying on European carriers in or out of the EU have the right to a refund or to be re-routed.

If passengers choose to be re-booked by their airline, the law require carriers to cover passengers' reasonable expenses.

Earlier, budget airline Ryanair said reimbursement would be limited to the original air fare paid by each passenger.

However it later issued a statement saying it would comply with the EU rules and would refund passengers for "reasonably-receipted expenses".

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary told the BBC passengers would not receive extra compensation for the inconvenience and the airline would seek to recover its costs - up to 40m euros (£35m) - from the EU "which closed the airspace".

Mr O'Leary also said he would continue to lobby for a change to the "grossly unfair" rules.

"They're not designed for European governments closing the entire European airspace for seven days," he said. "If governments close airspace, the governments should reimburse passengers, not the airlines".

'Against the law'

Easyjet said the flight ban had cost it £50m, including paying for 15,000 hotel rooms.

Oliver Aust from the airline told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme it will compensate passengers but said that the law was "unfair".

The EC have indicated they will compensate airlines and British holiday companies in the same way that the American government compensated airlines in America after 9/11
Sir Richard Branson

"We accept it is in the legislation but the legislation is not fit for purpose - it was drafted to deal with overbooking, it was never meant to make airlines the insurer of last resort in a case of natural disaster," he said.

Some flight-only travellers with Tui - which owns Thomson - whose original flights were cancelled are also being told they would have to pay the difference if an alternative flight is more expensive.

But the official airline watchdog in the UK, the Air Transport Users Council, said passengers should not be asked to pay more money.

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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."

 

USEFUL LINKS

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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20Apr/100

Some Flights Take Off But New Ash Cloud Causing Uncertainty

Some domestic flights are taking off in the UK, as airports begin to reopen after five days without flights because of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.

The first planes from Edinburgh and Glasgow both headed for Stornaway after 0700 BST - among a handful of internal flights scheduled from Scotland.

But Nats said a new ash cloud was causing uncertainty and there was now a worsening situation in some areas.

Belfast Airport said it hoped to start flights to Scotland from 1000 BST.

It said if it got the go ahead from Nats, a Flybe flight to Glasgow would leave at 1015 BST.

Although Scottish airspace is open most of the flights are said to be to destinations elsewhere in Scotland.

EXPERT ADVICE

The first international flight from Glasgow is due to head for Reykjavik in Iceland at midday.

Schedules are constantly changing and passengers have been advised not to travel to airports until they have checked with their airline or tour operator.

At Glasgow, there was only a trickle of passengers checking in for the Stornoway flight, which carried about 30 passengers.

Some of the check-in desks were staffed, but had no queues. A flight from Aberdeen to Newcastle was set to depart at 0825 BST. Flights from Newcastle are expected to head to Aberdeen and the Isle of Man.

illustration of volcanic ash dispersion up to 20,000 ft, issued at 7 am on 20 April. Advisory charts are issued every six hours, for up to 18 hours ahead, by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

illustration of volcanic ash dispersion up to 20,000 ft, issued at 7 am on 20 April. Advisory charts are issued every six hours, for up to 18 hours ahead, by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.