Ash closes airports in Spain, Portugal, Italy
A plume of volcanic ash snaked its way through southern France, Switzerland and northern Italy Sunday, shutting down airports and disrupting flights across Europe.
Brussels: A plume of volcanic ash snaked
its way through southern France, Switzerland and northern
Italy Sunday, shutting down airports and disrupting flights
Weather forecasts said the ash cloud will gradually
weaken as it spreads to southern parts of Germany, the Czech
Republic and Austria by today night. The ash, stretching from
the surface up to 6,000 meters, has forced the closure of
airports throughout much of northern Italy.
Separately, a finger of the main ash cloud--centered
in the mid-Atlantic at altitudes of up to 10,500 meters-- was
still touching on parts of Portugal and Spain, affecting
airports at Porto, La Coruna, Vigo, and Santiago.
The Irish Aviation Authority described the cloud as
3,400 kilometers long and 2,200 kilometers wide. It ordered
Ireland`s five westernmost airports to close today afternoon.
However Ireland`s three biggest airports in Dublin, Shannon
and Cork were expected to stay open because the cloud is
remaining off Ireland`s Atlantic coast.
Irish airline Aer Lingus apologised to its customers
for a string of flight cancellations since Tuesday, when the
ash threat returned to Irish air space after a two-week break.
Its trans-Atlantic services to Boston and New York were
operating today subject to delays.
"When the plume impacts on our air space, our first
focus is to plot a different flight path to avoid cancelling
flights. However this is often unavoidable. When airports are
closed for business, or flight paths are not available, we
must unfortunately cancel flights," Aer Lingus chief executive
Christoph Mueller said in a statement on the airline`s Web
The disruptions to air traffic appeared minor compared
to the five-day closure of European airspace last month, which
forced the cancellation of over 100,000 flights, stranded
passengers around the world and caused airlines direct losses
of more than one billion euros.
Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based agency that
coordinates air traffic control centers throughout the
continent, said trans-Atlantic flights will continue to be
diverted northward over Greenland to avoid the cloud
stretching from Iceland to the Azores Islands.
It warned airlines to plan on taking on more fuel for
the longer flight around the oceanic no-fly zone.
Flights are required to make significant rerouting to
avoid the area of ash cloud coverage," a midday advisory said.