THE huge volcanic ash cloud off the west coast of Ireland caused transatlantic flight disruption today with the threat of further major delays next week.
The cloud, now 2,000km long and 1,300km wide, also hit Ryanair operations with some 300 flights cancelled across Europe today.
The Irish Aviation Authority said this morning that Irish airspace and airports continue to be clear of volcanic ash.
"However, the ash cloud situated over the north Atlantic is drifting in over the Iberian Peninsula, and other parts of southern Europe, with a consequential risk to flight in those areas." Irish Airports are expected to be open until at least midnight tonight.
Ryanair flights from Dublin to Alicante, Faro, Fuerteventura, Las Palmas, Madrid, Malaga, Murcia, Palma Mallorca, Seville and Tenerife South, were all cancelled today.
Other flights cancelled included Alicante to Kerry; Faro to Dublin, Madrid to Dublin, and Fuerteventura to Dublin.
Passengers were advised to check airline websites for the latest updates before leaving for the airport.
Aer Lingus said Flight EI133 from Dublin to Shannon and onto Boston was cancelled, but passengers intending to travel from Shannon to Boston would be transported by coach to Dublin and flown onwards to Boston on flight EI137.
Dublin passengers on flight EI 133 would also be reaccommodated on flight EI 137, it said.
The Boston to Dublin flight was also cancelled but passengers would be reaccommodated on flight EI 132 from Boston to Dublin, with a scheduled departure at 7.15pm, the airline said.
It also cancelled flights from Dublin to Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela and from those locations to Dublin today.
Met Eireann said winds would change late on Sunday and become more northerly at higher levels, with the "danger period" on Sunday and Monday.
The Irish Aviation Authority warned that the ash plume from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano continued to pose a risk.
"Passengers planning to travel by air over the coming days are advised to regularly check their airline websites," it advised. Meanwhile, there were indications that a new ash cloud from the volcano could cause more delays to airline passengers from Ireland from as early as tomorrow.
Eurocontrol, the European intergovernmental air traffic control coordinator, said that renewed and more intensive ash eruptions took place overnight on Thursday with the area of potential higher ash contamination forecast to extend from Iceland as far south as the western edge of the Iberian peninsula.
Eurocontrol said the areas where the volcanic ash concentrations were likely to exceed engine tolerance levels were "to the west of northwest Europe".
"Transatlantic flights are being rerouted south of the affected area which could cause delays to these flights," it said.