Greenland airspace partly closes over volcanic ash

Last Updated: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 14:03

Reykjavik: A portion of the airspace over Denmark`s autonomous territory Greenland has been closed due to ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano, Danish air traffic control officials said on Monday.

Naviair spokeswoman Helle Kogsbell told a news agency that authorities had partly closed Greenland airspace late Sunday "due to the spread of ash from the Icelandic volcano to the east coast of Greenland."

She said the airspace would remain shut until at least 1200 GMT on Monday.

"The space, up to 6,000 metres (nearly four miles) of altitude, from north of Kulusuk...to Constable Point in the East, remains closed to air traffic," Kogsbell said.

Naviair is responsible for the airspace over Greenland only up to 6,000 kilometres, while Canada and Iceland have control over airspace above that.

Denmark was the first country besides Iceland to close any airspace after the Grimsvoetn volcano began erupting late Saturday, but European aviation authorities have been closely monitoring the giant column of ash, amid fears it could like last year`s eruption wreak havoc on air travel across the continent.

European safety experts have warned that the ash could reach Scotland by Tuesday before sweeping across Britain to hit France and Spain two days later.

Norwegian airport operator Avinor meanwhile said Monday it planned to halt flights between mainland Norway and the country`s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard on Monday.

"The cloud of ash will reach the waters separating continental Norway and Svalbard," Avinor spokesman Ove Narvesen told a news agency.

"There will therefore not be any flights to or from Svalbard today," he said, adding there was also "a certain risk that western Norway will be affected but it is too early to say."

Only two flights were scheduled to fly to or from Svalbard Monday.

France`s junior transport secretary Thierry Mariani warned on Monday that flights would be cancelled if an ash cloud blew over Europe, sending airline shares tumbling.

"One thing that is certain ... is that if Europe is affected then flights will be cancelled," Mariani said on Europe 1 radio, adding that it was too early to say for certain if it would.

Shares in Air France-KLM plunged four percent at the opening of trading.

In Germany, the price of shares in Lufthansa airline fell by 4.56 percent.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 14:03

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