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Ash Brings Air Travel Chaos To Europe; AI Cancels Flights

Ash clouds from a new surge in Icelandic volcanoes caused fresh travel chaos in major European air routes shutting down key airports with Air India cancelling its Heathrow bound flights from Delhi and Mumbai on
PTI May 17, 2010 17:16 IST
PTI

Ash clouds from a new surge in Icelandic volcanoes caused fresh travel chaos in major European air routes shutting down key airports with Air India cancelling its Heathrow bound flights from Delhi and Mumbai on Monday. 

 The black clouds also shut other major airports in Europe including Schipol and Rottredam in Holland, and Gatwick and London as well as flights to and fro from Ireland and Scotland.  Around 1,000 flights out of 28,000 were disrupted according to Eurocontrol. London's Heathrow which is the busiest airport in Europe and Gatwick reopened at 1300 GMT (1730 IST) after being closed down for seven hours from 0400-1300 hrs. All airports in Ireland and Scotland were also shut down.

 Air India cancelling its Heathrow bound flights from Delhi and Mumbai today. Jet airways, however flew scheduled flights from Delhi and Mumbai as their flights land at Heathrow in the night.  The latest closures came at the beginning of the week as travel was expected to be disrupted due to five day strike called British Airways cabin crew. 

 Europe's skies became no-fly zone for up to a week in April following the eruption of Icelands Eyjafjoell volcano, in the biggest shut down of continents airspace in last fifty years.   Air India sources told PTI here that its Amritsar-London-Toronto flight is airborne and expected to land here tonight. The Heathrow-bound flights from Mumbai and Delhi are expected to fly as per schedule tomorrow. 

Jet Airways sources said their flights from Delhi and Mumbai are flying as per schedule and expected here tonight.   Passengers flying with British Airways are also expected to face problems because of strike action by cabin crew from midnight tonight. Other airports in Scotland, Wales and Ireland remain shut until at least lunchtime today.  

Eurocontrol, which is in charge of air-traffic across Europe, said the ash is mainly at low-levels of concentration.  "During the course of the day, the current cloud is expected to disperse somewhat. By 1 pm, the cloud is expected to mainly affect Northern Ireland, parts of Scotland and parts of South West UK. There may be some continuing disruption to flights in the greater London area," it said. 

Delays will also be experienced by flights due to congestion in airspace adjacent to closed areas. Ash can clog aircraft engines.  The April 14 eruption at Eyjafjallajokul volcano forced most countries in northern Europe to shut their airspace between April 15-20.  This led to grounding of more than 100,000 flights and an estimated 10 million travellers worldwide. The shutdown cost airlines more than USD 2 billion. PTI