All flights in and out of UK airspace are to be suspended for safety reasons after the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, disrupting travel in Northern Europe.

No flights to or from the United Kingdom will be permitted from midday until 18.00 GMT due to fears about ash damaging aircraft, said NATS, the organization responsible for air traffic control in the country. The ban also affects Scandinavian flights.

All airports in Scotland and many in London have been closed since the early hours of this morning as the cloud of ash spread east from Iceland. The closure of London Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports, is likely to significantly disrupt travel.

All flights in Norway and northern Sweden have also been cancelled Thursday because of the risks posed by volcanic ash, which can also damage aircraft engines and reduce visibility for pilots.

Some flights in Denmark and northern Finland also appeared to be disrupted.

Airport operator BAA and individual airlines have warned individuals not to travel to the airport without first contacting their airlines. Further information is available from BAA and NATS websites (addresses below).

Current predictions from the UK Met Office Volcanic Ash Aviation Centre show that the cloud will reach the northern tip of France and spread over Scandinavia by Thursday night. Forecasters and volcano experts have said that the ash could take several days to clear.

Iceland's second volcano eruption in less than a month began under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in the south of the country at around 1:00 am (GMT) Wednesday.

Advice for travelers

Flightstats delay information: http://www.flightstats.com
British Airports Authority: http://www.baa.com/
National Air Traffic Services: http://www.nats.co.uk/

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