Ash clouds closes airspace in France, Italy, Portugal

Last Updated: Sunday, May 9, 2010 - 19:42

Lisbon: Airspace above France, Italy and
Portugal was closed today and dozens of flights cancelled
because of an ash cloud drifting over from a volcano in
Iceland that caused air travel chaos last month.

French authorities said the cloud forced the suspension
of about 20 flights at the airport in Nice, the nearest
international airport to Cannes which is to host its flagship
international film festival in three days` time.

Most of the affected planes were from British company
easyJet and included flights to or from Paris, London, Geneva
and other major European centres, airport officials said.

All flights to the city of Porto in nothern Portugal were
suspended until 1730 IST today, airport officials there said,
after authorities had cancelled dozens of flights in the
country yesterday because of risks from the ash.

"All flights have been cancelled until 1:00 pm (1730 IST)
because of the closure of airspace above the region," an
official at the city`s Sa Carneiro international airport said.

"The airport is open but air traffic control operations
are no longer possible because of the cloud," the official
told AFP.

Italian authorities said separately they closed airspace
in the north of the country between 1130 IST and 1730 IST for
the same reason.

The civil aviation authority said in a statement that the
closure affected Milan airports but those in Venice and
Trieste, also in the north, were spared.

The Eyjafjoell volcano began erupting on April 14 and
caused travel chaos worldwide with airspaces closed over
several European nations for a week because of fears the ash
would damage aircraft engines with fatal results.

It was the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World
War II, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled and eight
million passengers affected. The airline industry said it lost
some 2.5 billion euros.

The volcano began fresh and intensive ash eruptions
overnight Thursday and caused Ireland and the Faroe Islands to
shut their airspace for a time.

The ash caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights
yesterday as air traffic was disrupted in Spain, France and
Portugal, while many transatlantic services were delayed as
they skirted the plume of debris from the volcano.

Spanish air traffic was returning to normal today, with
the remaining three of around 20 airports closed yesterday due
to open in the morning, a spokesman for the Aena air control
authority said.


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First Published: Sunday, May 9, 2010 - 19:42

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