Hundreds of flights grounded as ash cloud reaches Britain

Airlines halted hundreds of flights on Tuesday after a plume of ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland blew over Britain, even forcing US President Barack Obama to revise his travel plans.

Barely a year after a similar eruption in Iceland forced the biggest closure of European airspace since World War II, Britain's flagship carrier British Airways was the first to suspend flights from London to Scotland.

Dutch airline KLM, Irish carrier Aer Lingus and budget airline Easyjet then followed suit, and Britain's NATS air traffic control also warned of disruption to airports in northern England, including Newcastle, and Northern Ireland.

"Most airlines have cancelled flights today - 252 flights," said Brian Flynn, head of operations at the Brussels-based Eurocontrol.

In a Twitter update, he warned that the ash cloud "will continue possibly southwards to France and Spain but hard to say now because (weather) forecasts are not precise for the end of the week."

He said that by the end of the day, the cloud "will cover southern parts of Scandinavia, Denmark and northern parts of Germany possibly."

This could threaten planning for events ranging from the G8 summit to the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United to take place at London's Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Spanish giants Barcelona said they would make a decision Tuesday regarding their travel plans.

The ash cloud reached Norway on Tuesday morning, a spokesman for airport operator Avinor told AFP, adding that the disruption so far was "very small".

Last year's shutdown was hugely expensive for airlines and low-budget Irish carrier Ryanair said it would challenge advice from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) not to operate flights to Scotland.

"Following forecasts of significant volcanic ash in Scottish airspace, (we) have decided as a precaution that it will not operate any flights between London and Scotland on Tuesday... that arrive in Scotland before 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) or depart from Scotland before 2:00 pm," a BA statement said.

"At present all other flights are unaffected," it added.

The most high-profile victim of the chaos was Obama, who was forced to leave Ireland a day ahead of schedule on Monday night to avoid being stranded there.

Obama is among the leaders of the world's major industrialised nations due to attend a summit in northwest France from Thursday which could well be disrupted if the cloud goes further south.

When an Icelandic volcano erupted last year, the plume of ash arrived in Scotland before spreading quickly across Britain, shutting down the whole country's airspace.

The ash then drifted across most of Europe, sparking the biggest shutdown of airspace in the post-war era.

Many airlines were deeply unhappy at the time at being forced to halt their flights and the prospect of a fresh confrontation between carriers and aviation authorities loomed on Tuesday.

In a statement on its website, Ryanair said it "strongly objects" to advice from Irish controllers to stay out of Scottish airports until 1200 GMT Tuesday.

"Ryanair believe that there is no safety risk to aircraft on fights operating to and from Scotland and together with other airlines will be complaining to the transport minister and regulatory authorities about these latest and unnecessary cancellation," it said.

British transport minister Philip Hammond said there had been some delays to flights but added Britain was better prepared after last year's travel chaos when Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano caused major disruption.

"Clearly, this is a natural phenomenon which we cannot control, but the UK is now much better prepared to deal with an ash eruption than last year," he said.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said it had brought in new measures including a move to identify areas of high, medium and low density ash using data from the Met Office.

Instead of a blanket ban on flights, airlines wishing to operate in high or medium density ash will now have to have a safety request approved by the CAA.

burs-ar/gj/co

 

 

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
news
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
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
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

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect