Airspace closure extended until Sunday morning

All Ryanair UK flights and BA shorthaul flights cancelled until Monday.

Flights from London and much of the rest of Britain will remain grounded until tomorrow morning because of the cloud of volcanic ash looming over northern Europe, air traffic controllers confirmed.

The ash cloud created by an erupting volcano in Iceland is "moving around and changing shape", the air traffic control company Nats said. If it "moves sufficiently", some domestic flights may be able to take off from Scotland and Northern Ireland today.

British Airways decided last night that all its flights in and out of London today will be grounded and its shorthaul flights cancelled until Monday. A spokeswoman for the airline said the cancellation covered all flights to and from European destinations as well as domestic services. A decision on long-haul flights would be made later.

Tens of thousands of Ryanair passengers had their travel plans wrecked this weekend after Europe's biggest airline cancelled all flights out of Britain, Ireland and other countries until Monday afternoon. Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said he would not jeopardise safety and wanted to allow passengers a chance to seek refunds or rebook flights a few days ahead, rather than book 24 hours in advance in the vain hope that the cloud would shift dramatically.

A Nats statement this morning read: "Following the latest information from the Met Office, Nats advises that restrictions across UK controlled airspace have been extended until at least 1900 today and that restrictions to Scottish and Manchester airspace have been reapplied until the same time."



"Current forecasts show that the situation is worsening throughout Saturday.



"We are continuing to look for windows of opportunity to handle individual flights in UK controlled airspace."







British travellers in Iceland were able to make a getaway home yesterday when the ash cloud shifted sufficiently for aircraft to fly to Scotland. More than 400 people arrived on the first two flights to land in Glasgow from Iceland, including children who had been on trips to see glaciers and volcanic rock formations.

For the second day running, English airspace remained almost entirely closed because of the risk that small particles from the ash cloud spewed from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland on Wednesday would clog aircraft engines. At least 500,000 people are thought to have been prevented from boarding flights to and from Britain, stranding an estimated 100,000 Britons abroad. Major airlines such as British Airways or Lufthansa are estimated to be losing £10m a day while their planes are grounded.

To the fury of consumer groups, many insurers are refusing to pay for passengers' extra accommodation and travel costs, on the basis that the volcanic eruption was an unforeseeable "act of God". Britain's biggest insurer, Aviva, said that scheduled departures delayed by the volcanic ash cloud would not normally be covered by travel insurance "as it is not a normal insurable peril", but said it would consider offering goodwill payments. AXA said standard policies would not pay out for delays.

Train companies laid on extra services to Scotland, with Eurostar and ferry companies also expanding their capacities. Eurostar reported that its 58 services were full, and P&O Ferries said it was unable to accept any further foot-passenger bookings at the weekend due to an unprecedented demand.

Although the ash is not thought to pose a general danger, the Health Protection Agency advised people with respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma to ensure they carry any inhalers or other medications with them.

KPMG travel expert Dr Ashley Steel said: "This is yet another dramatic and costly event for the global aviation industry which will have a significant impact on annual revenues of airlines in the UK and Europe."

Insurance firms 'in disarray' over disruption

Passengers

Travellers waiting to hear whether their flights will go ahead may be left out of pocket. Under EU legislation, those whose flights are cancelled are entitled to a refund or re-routing. In the case of re-routing, the airline should pay for meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation (if necessary), and transport between airport and accommodation. Extra compensation is unlikely because volcanic ash would be considered an "extraordinary circumstance".

Whether travel insurance policies pay out will depend on the small-print. The Association of British Insurers said yesterday there were no standard terms and conditions and advised individuals to check with their insurer. There is unlikely to be any payment for passengers who no longer wish to travel.

Britain's biggest insurer, Norwich Union, was considering its position. AXA said its standard policies would only "provide some cover" if passengers could not make their main international flight as a result of the "failure of other public transport", such as a connecting flight. A leading personal finance website complained insurers were in disarray. Bob Atkinson, travel expert at moneysupermarket.com said the reaction from many travel insurers was "extremely disappointing". "The industry really needs to get its act together...this is exactly the type of event that people buy insurance for."

Another knock for carriers

Airlines

Airlines are expected to lose hundreds of millions of pounds as a result of the disruption. Aviation expert John Strickland, of JLS Consulting, predicted the hardest hit would be British airlines based in the South East, such as BA, easyJet and Ryanair.

BA estimated it was losing £10m to £20m a day during its recent cabin crew strikes, Mr Strickland said, which was only a partial reduction in services, and the former national carrier is a fraction of the European aviation industry. Delays are likely to continue for several days as carriers repatriate jets stuck in cities around the world.

Airport retailers will also have lost large sums due to the absence of travellers with time and money to burn. Some of this revenue will return as passengers prowl again through airport lounges to rescheduled services.

But the airlines will never entirely make up for the days they have lost. Mr Strickland said: "It just illustrates how vulnerable the industry is to shocks. You always have the economy, but we keep on having other things that could not have been predicted in a business plan such as avian flu, swine flu and now this."

Losses for companies are unknown

Business

The lockdown of UK airspace has left a trail of cancelled sales trips, meetings and conferences.

At the Federation of Small Businesses, which has 200,000 members, spokesman Eric Beech said: "Some small businesses will be affected by the interruption in air travel. They may not be as large in terms of the number of employees but they do need to move around the UK and internationally."

He said he believed the cost would be lower than during the snowy weather in January, which stopped employees from getting to work. "We cannot quantify what the loss is likely to be," he said. "There are other means of transport internally, so I wouldn't have thought it would be as high as in January."

Some companies may save money if they use video conferencing rather than flying to communicate with clients or colleagues. Technology company Outsourcery boasted yesterday: "The travel difficulties will only further underline how being able to connect with your colleagues wherever they are means an increase in productivity."

Additional reporting by Independent staff

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices