IAA relax flight restrictions on Irish airspace
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) today said they were easing flight bans over Ireland with Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports to reopen.
But the IAA warned services in and out of the country would be severely limited by restrictions at European airports still badly affected by the volcanic ash cloud.
Experts said the massive plume was hanging over England and Wales and most of mainland Europe, but continuing to move away from the south-east of Ireland.
"While our State airports have had the restriction lifted, the situation is still very serious throughout Europe," the IAA said.
"The majority of airspace and airports in the UK, France and Germany continue to have restrictions in place.
"The weather maps show the volcanic ash cloud hanging over England and Wales and most of mainland Europe.
"So there will continue to be restrictions in those countries for at least the next 24 hours. This will mean that there will continue to be serious disruption for eastbound and southbound traffic out of Irish airports."
The IAA cautioned that the volcano on the Icelandic mountain Eyjaffjalljokull was still very active and a repeat ban may be imposed if weather patterns change pushing the ash back over Ireland.
"Safety will always be our first concern," a spokesman said.
The next IAA update will be at 2pm.
Meanwhile, Ryanair said all UK and Irish services have been cancelled but internal flights on the Dublin-Cork-Kerry route may begin again at 1pm.
Across Europe the budget airline said services in Denmark and Finland have also been cancelled while flights to and from Norway and Sweden were grounded until 1pm.
Operations to and from Belgium, Holland, northern France, northern Germany are cancelled until 5pm.
Aer Lingus said it had cancelled all scheduled flights between Ireland and the UK for the day, including regional flights.
It said all services from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast to the European mainland have been grounded until at least 1pm.
"We expect further cancellations on our European schedule throughout the day," the airline said.
On its transatlantic routes, the airline said flights should operate with delays except for one service from Shannon to New York.
Irish Ferries said the queues in Dublin Port for services across the Irish Sea were exceptional.
But despite the massive demand, the company said it couold accommodate people on its Holyhead and Pembroke services.
Aer Arann said it would operate a limited service on domestic routes between Dublin, Derry, Galway, Sligo, Donegal and Knock.
But the carrier said due to the closure of UK airspace it expected to cancel all other flights.
The IAA said part of the volcanic ash plume was covering about 100,000 square miles off the south coast of Ireland.
The Government's emergency planning committee, which met in central Dublin for the second time in 24 hours, said there were no air quality, public health or environmental concerns in Ireland as a result of the eruption.
It said Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Cabinet were being briefed on developments regularly by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey.