Saturday 3 December 2016

Air travel disruption spreads

Published 15/04/2010 | 11:33

Ash clouds from Iceland’s spewing volcano have disrupted air traffic across northern Europe. Authorities have closed Irish, Nordic and British air space, resulting in Europe's busiest airport at Heathrow being closed and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

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With the major trans-Atlantic hub at Heathrow closed, dozens of flights to the US were on hold, and cancelations spread across the continent to major hubs at Brussels, Amsterdam, Geneva and Paris, where flights heading north were canceled until midnight.

In Iceland, hundreds of people have fled rising floodwaters since the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted on Wednesday for the second time in less than a month. As water gushed down the mountainside, rivers rose up to 10 feet by Wednesday night.

The ash cloud has not disrupted operations at Iceland's Keflavik airport or caused problems in the capital of Reykjavik, but has affected the southeastern part of the island, said meteorologist Thorsteinn Jonsson.

In one area, visibility was reduced to 150 yards, he said, and farmers were advised to keep livestock indoors to protect them from eating ash particles as sharp as glass.

The volcano was sending up smoke and ash that posed "a significant safety threat to aircraft," Britain's National Air Traffic Service said, as visibility is compromised and debris can get sucked into airplane engines.

In northern Sweden all air traffic was suspended, affecting the cities of Skelleftea, Lulea, Kiruna and Hemavan, the national aviation authority said. Air traffic in northern Finland was also halted.

Norway's King Harald V and Queen Sonja -- who had planned to fly Thursday to Copenhagen for the Danish queen's 70th birthday -- were looking to take a "car, boat or train." A canceled trans-Atlantic flight left Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg grounded in New York.

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