AI cancels all flights to Europe, North America



New Delhi: With the volcanic clouds over the European airspace virtually shutting down global air traffic, Air India on Saturday announced cancellation of flights to Europe and North America scheduled for tomorrow.

Thousands of air travellers, both Indian and foreign, faced inconvenience at the Delhi and Mumbai airports where airline or airport officials could not confirm when they would be able to fly.

Announcing closure of UK airspace till 1900 GMT today (0030 hours IST tomorrow), British air navigation services NATS in its latest update said, "Current forecasts show that the situation is worsening throughout Saturday. We are continuing to look for windows of opportunity to handle individual flights in UK controlled airspace".

Announcing closure of UK airspace till 1900 GMT today (0030 hours IST tomorrow), British air navigation services NATS in its latest update said, "Current forecasts show that the situation is worsening throughout Saturday. We are continuing to look for windows of opportunity to handle individual flights in UK controlled airspace".

Dubai-based Emirates Airline today cancelled all its flights from Dubai to the UK and most to mainland Europe as the impact of the icelandic ash cloud continued to cause chaos.

All flights to London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow have been grounded, the airline said.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways has also said its services to the UK, Ireland and some European destinations would be affected "throughout the weekend".

Destinations in France and Germany have also been hit with services to Paris, Dusseldorf and Hamburg cancelled on Saturday.

The only Emirates flights to Europe on Saturday were to Nice in southern France and to Moscow in Russia.

The UK's National Air Traffic Service (Nats) said current restrictions to UK air space would remain in place until at least 6 pm on Saturday (9 pm UAE time).

Etihad Airways said on Friday it was cancelling flights to the UK, Ireland and some European destinations on Friday and throughout the weekend.

Services most affected include flights to and from London Heathrow, Manchester, Frankfurt, Brussels and Paris, the airline said in a statement.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Gulf, Saudi passengers scheduled to return to the Kingdom from London and other European destinations remain grounded at various airports.

Most of the other Western airlines including Air France and Lufthansa said they had no information when the European airports would become operational again.

Air France’s early Saturday flight to Paris was cancelled and the flight from Riyadh was expected to be severely delayed.

PTI