Volcanic Ash Crisis
First UK flights to start again
Flights will finally start again in the UK tomorrow after air traffic control company Nats lifted restrictions for Scotland and part of northern England.
After days without any flights above the UK due to volcanic ash, Nats said tonight that Scottish airspace would open at 7am tomorrow.
Airspace south to a line between Teesside and Blackpool will also be open, with the hope that restrictions over the rest of England and Wales will be lifted later tomorrow, Nats said.
But current restrictions for the UK would carry on until 7am tomorrow.
Nats said: "The volcanic eruption has reduced and the volcano is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK. Assuming there are no further significant ash emissions, we are now looking at a continuously improving situation.
"This is a dynamic and changing situation and is therefore difficult to forecast beyond 7am tomorrow.
"However, the latest Met Office advice is that the contaminated area will continue to move south, with the possibility that restrictions to airspace above England and Wales, including the London area, may be lifted later tomorrow.
"It is now for airports and airlines to decide how best to utilise this opportunity. Passengers should contact their airlines to find out how this will affect their travel plans."
The news will come as an enormous relief to cash-strapped airlines and the estimated 150,000 Britons stranded abroad by the flights ban.
Before the Nats announcement, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that two Royal Navy ships were to be used to help bring Britons home, with a third vessel also possibly being deployed.
The go-ahead for flights came as airlines pointed to successful test flights through closed airspace as a reason for lifting restrictions.
Airline Flybe said it would start operating services again from Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Newcastle airports from 10.05am tomorrow.
The first flight will take off from Belfast City airport at 10.05 heading for Edinburgh.
The lessening of the impact of the volcano and the promise of a change in wind direction by the end of the week holds out the hope that the crisis can soon be resolved.
The cost to airlines and other affected industries is immense and British Airways said today that European carriers had asked the EU and national governments for financial compensation.
BA, which took a test flight through a successful run out across the Atlantic yesterday, said the flight restrictions had cost it between £15 million and £20 million a day.
While Mr Brown and Transport Secretary Lord Adonis outlined measures to get Britons home, holiday companies Thomson and First Choice said they were laying on coaches to repatriate around 5,000 stranded tourists in the Spanish resorts of Alicante and Malaga.
Thomas Cook also announced that it was flying holidaymakers from the Caribbean to Portugal and getting them home from there.
Mr Brown said HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean would be used to help stranded Britons. A third vessel, HMS Albion, which was on its way to Spain to pick up troops, "may be able to be of help", the Prime Minister said.
The International Air Transport Association was highly critical of the European response to the ash crisis which, it estimated, is costing the aviation industry around 200 million dollars (£130 million) a day.
Meanwhile, ferry companies and train operators have been enjoying a travel boom in the absence of any UK plane travel.
Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar said it was putting on extra trains every day this week.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 3 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 4 Greece crisis: Crowdfunding campaign crashes Indiegogo, raises half a million in just three days
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
UK weather: Commuters complain of 'hell' in sweltering train carriages as temperatures set to hit 35C
French air-traffic strike: Seven more days of strikes planned
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The most powerful passports in the world
French air-traffic strike: Planned industrial action called off
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...
£39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...