Sunday, May 16, 2010

New ash cloud disrupts UK, Ireland air traffic

S Kalyana Ramanathan / London May 17, 2010

Ash from a volcano in southern Iceland is back over the UK airspace, disrupting flights from nearly a dozen airports in the country. However the main airports in London — Heathrow, Gatwick and London City Airports — are functioning normally as of now.

In the mainland, East Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool, Doncaster, Humberside and Carlisle airports have been hit by the Civil Aviation Authority’s no-fly zone. Airports in Northern Ireland, Prestwick near Glasgow, some on Scottish islands and the Isle of Man are also affected, according to initial reports.

Between April 15 and 23, air passengers across Europe were affected by the ash plumes from Eyjafjallajokull in southern Iceland. Three weeks after the ash subsided, they are back now. From Saturday evening, aviation authorities in the UK started issuing warning about the ash clouds from Iceland moving towards the UK. The only sliver lining to this problem now is that the southern part of the country’s airspace remains unaffected, thus allowing flights from London airports to function normally.

It was estimated that the airline industry in Europe lost $1.7-2 billion during the week-long ban on flight movement declared by European navigation authorities in April.

UK’s navigation service provider NATS, in its latest notice, said: “The CAA’s no-fly zone required by the high density volcanic ash cloud will not affect London airports for the period 1300-1900 (local time) today. The no-fly zone for this period has moved east to a line stretching from Prestwick on the west coast to Humberside on the east coast and south to a line just north of Birmingham.

Airports which fall within the no-fly zone include all those in Northern Ireland, Ronaldsway, Prestwick, Carlisle, Manchester, Liverpool, Doncaster, Humberside and East Midlands and some Scottish island airports including Campbeltown, Islay and Barra.

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