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Sunday 18 February 2018

Flights back to normal all week as cloud retreats

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

AIR travellers and holidaymakers are promised an ash-free, warm week ahead as flights return to normal following more disruption of Irish airspace.

And the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) announced last night the introduction of a new three-zone safety area which will allow more flights to operate around the ash cloud.

The new restrictions allow for a further reduction in the no-fly buffer zone around the cloud, and allow planes to fly around it.

The new zones are based on data from tests and analyses of aircraft operating in and around the ash plume over the last four weeks.

The revised safety zones were agreed jointly by the IAA and the UK Civil Aviation Authority and apply from midday today.

The IAA said the cloud of ash from Iceland was moving east, away from Irish airspace.

The authority said yesterday it did not anticipate putting any further restrictions in place due to volcanic ash for at least the next 48 hours. But it added it would issue a statement in the event Irish airspace became threatened by the ash cloud.

Passengers planning to travel by air over the coming days are also advised to regularly check their airline websites and the IAA website in advance of going to the airport.

According to Met Eireann, the ash plume was expected to clear from Munster and Connacht by last night, and then continue to move away from Leinster and Ulster by this morning.

The Met office said the mainly southwesterly airflow will persist through the rest of the week "and should keep the ash away from Irish airspace".

But, despite the respite, the threat from the ash cloud is expected to continue throughout the entire summer.

Significantly, the Icelandic Met Office has warned "there are no signs that the eruption is about to end".


Keeping Irish skies open for the summer depends on winds blowing from the south in the event of the ash cloud spreading over the country.

Dublin airport was the worst-affected by the closure yesterday with some 300 flights cancelled, affecting in the region of 36,000 people. Aer Lingus said it resumed a full schedule of flights from Dublin, Cork and Shannon at midday and from Belfast after 1pm yesterday.

Ryanair put on extra flights from Dublin, East Midlands, Glasgow Prestwick and Liverpool flights to and from Alicante, Canary Islands and Faro, and between Dublin and London Stansted from today.

Meanwhile, plans to resume a ferry route between Cork and Spain have been put on hold until the autumn at the earliest.

The opening of the route, first mooted last year, is not now likely until September or October, the Port of Cork said yesterday. "The port is waiting until a suitable vessel becomes available," it added.

Irish Independent

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