Volcanic ash cloud could return at weekend

High levels of volcanic ash could return to the UK on Friday just as the bank holiday weekend getaway begins, forecasters have warned.

But today airline passengers enjoyed near disruption-free flights as the ash cloud from Iceland moved away from British skies.



However, the high densities, expected at around midday on Friday, are predicted to be at heights of between 35,000ft and 50,000ft.



Airliners' typical cruising height is anything between around 25,000ft and 40,000ft, and the hope is that aircraft flying in and out of the UK will be able to travel under this cloud.



As activity from the Grimsvotn volcano dropped, only a handful of flights in and out of the UK were disrupted today.



With the ash cloud moving away to northern Europe, several UK carriers, including British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, had to axe some of their German flights.



EasyJet cancelled flights between Gatwick and Hamburg, and Liverpool and Berlin, while Ryanair cancelled some flights in and out of the German airports of Bremen, Lubeck and Magdeburg.



Six flights at Edinburgh airport were cancelled because planes were out of position and Glasgow Airport saw some delays.



Around 700 flights in total were axed across Europe.



Today, Ryanair again questioned the necessity of designating "red zones" of high-level ash over Scotland on Thursday.



But Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said aviation authorities would "not be bullied" by Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary, or anyone else, into departing from a policy of prioritising passenger and aircraft safety.



Looking ahead to the rest of the week, a Met Office spokesman said tonight: "There is a chance of some fairly dense ash at between 35,000ft and 50,000ft over the UK around midday on Friday. This ash is from the original eruption which pushed a lot of ash high into the atmosphere.



"The intensity of the volcano has dropped. There are just steam plumes coming out and it is not putting any ash into the atmosphere."

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