Ash plume continues to ground European flight services

by Emily DUNBAR on April 16, 2010

Since the volcanic eruption on Wednesday in Iceland, airports across Europe have cancelled flights in what is being called the biggest disruption to airspace since 9/11. The ash plume created by the volcano has caused visibility to become so poor that most of Europe has shut down its airspace, stranding thousands of waiting airline passengers.

The Met Office is now reporting that the ash plume will continue to impact on visibility and air quality well into Saturday. According to officials, the poor visibility will cause major disruptions to flight schedules well through Saturday. Most of the airspace in northern and western Europe has been completely closed. As of Friday, less than half the number of regularly scheduled flights are expected to operate.

According to scientists, the Icelandic volcano is still erupting, but has begun to produce less ash. Scotland closed airspace for much of the country on Thursday, and several other countries followed suit on Friday.

Officials in the UK are saying that current restrictions on airspace in the country will most likely stay in place until at least 1200 GMT Saturday. Ryanair has cancelled all scheduled flights around northern Europe continuing up until 1300 GMT on Monday. British Airways has cancelled all London flights through to Saturday. Many other northern European countries and airlines are continuing to do the same.

At present, 60 per cent of all European flights have been grounded with an additional 50 per cent of transatlantic flights also being cancelled. Eurocontrol, the European air traffic controller, said that there would continue to be significant disruption to European flights services past Saturday.

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