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Europe
Irish flights resume amid ash cloud
Icelandic volcano forces many airports to close and causes air traffic disruptions.
Last Modified: 10 May 2010 04:44 GMT
Passengers continue to be left stranded as ash cloud shuts down many European airports [AFP]

Ireland will reopen its airports after the latest disruption of flights across the Atlantic and parts of Europe continues with the spread of potentially dangerous ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Airports in Donegal, Sligo, Ireland West Galway and Kerry, on the country's west coast, will reopen at 6am (05:00 GMT), the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has said.

They were closed progressively on Sunday after concentrations of volcanic ash, which is believed to damage plane engines, drifted across Irish airspace.

"The past number of days has seen the growth of a large cloud of high ash concentration off the west coast of Ireland, and this has caused difficulty for some transatlantic operations," the IAA said in a statement.

The aviation authority said it was "monitoring the path of the ash cloud", which was around 3,400km long and 2,200km wide.

Ireland's airports have seen several shutdowns in recent days. On Thursday airports were closed before being re-opened just three hours later.

Disruptions

Restrictions on Scottish airspace were also lifted late on Sunday. Flights had been halted in some northern areas, with the exception of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

Italy and Germany, too, resumed flights, although restrictions remained in parts of Portugal, Spain and Austria.

Special report
Volcano chaos

The closures were expected to last at least until Monday morning.

Portuguese airports cancelled 223 flights, including 119 at Porto and 71 at Lisbon.

French aviation authority said around 30 flights from Paris to southern Europe were also cancelled, although French airspace remains open.

Gradual dissipation

Weather forecasts said that the ash would gradually dissipate as it spreads to southern parts of Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria by Sunday night.

With volcanic eruptions weakening, the plume in the mid-Atlantic was also slowly clearing.


The Eyjafjallajokull ash cloud continues to billow smoke and wreak havoc on air travel

Airspace across Europe was almost completely shut down for around a week last month after Eyjafjallajokull erupted and threw up an ash cloud over most of the continent.

But the authorities reopened airspace and airports after emergency talks between European governments, airlines and regulators.

The international airline industry body, Iata, said last month's shutdown had cost airlines about $1.7bn and called on governments to pick up at least part of the cost.

Eurocontrol said more than 100,000 flights to, from and within Europe had been cancelled between April 15 and 21, preventing an estimated 10 million passengers from travelling.

Source:
Agencies
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