Flights grounded in north Scotland by Iceland ash cloud
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010, 09:49
  
London: Flights over northern Scotland were grounded Thursday as an ash cloud from a volcano eruption in Iceland drifted over the country, said air traffic control service NATS.

"We are restricting flights within the area affected by the ash cloud generated by the Icelandic volcanic eruption -- at present, this is the northern region of Scotland," said NATS in a statement on its website.

"We took this decision in order to maintain safety."

The British air traffic control service added the ash was "expected to move south."

NATS said earlier that it was working with its counterparts across Europe to coordinate action as the ash cloud approached.

The decision in northern Scotland came after flights were grounded in northern Norway Wednesday over fears the ash could hamper visibility.

A spokesman for Norway's airport network operator Avinor said that the ash from the eruption had not yet caused any problems, but added that "it's better to be safe than sorry."

Aberdeen Airport, in northeast Scotland, said its airspace was closed and predicted a "considerable impact" on flight arrivals and departures on Thursday.

A spokeswoman said the closure might "spread to other parts of Scotland."

On Wednesday, airline easyJet warned flights at British airports could be affected.

"Following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland earlier (Wednesday), the Met Office (weather forecasting service) have advised airlines that the ash plume may reach UK air space overnight," said a spokeswoman.

This could cause "significant disruption" for flights departing Britain Thursday, she said.

Iceland's second volcano eruption in less than a month began under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in the south of the country at around 1:00 am (GMT) Wednesday.

Between 700 and 800 people were evacuated from their homes in the remote, lightly populated area 125 kilometres (75 miles) east of Reykjavik, as melted glacier water caused massive flooding.

Last month, the first volcano eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull glacier since 1823 -- and Iceland's first since 2004 -- briefly forced 600 people from their homes in the same area.

During the eruption on March 21, all Iceland flights were briefly cancelled, but on Wednesday only one local airport near the eruption site had been closed, according to the Icelandic Airport Authority.

Authority spokeswoman Hjordis Gudmundsdottir told AFP that the wind was blowing ash from the eruption toward Norway and not towards the capital, allowing the main airport to remain open.

Bureau Report


First Published: Thursday, April 15, 2010, 09:49


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