Sunday 17 December 2017

When British airports became no-fly zones

Raf Sanchez and Russell Jenkins

BRITAIN became a no-fly zone yesterday as a spreading cloud of volcanic ash headed south from Iceland forcing northern European airports to shut.

In the first extended closure of British air space in living memory, millions of airline passengers faced travel chaos as National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said no civilian planes would fly until at least 7am this morning because of the eruption in Iceland. "The cloud of volcanic ash is now spread across the UK and continuing to travel south. In line with international civil aviation policy, no flights other than agreed emergencies are currently permitted in UK controlled airspace," a spokesman from NATS said yesterday.

"Following a review of the latest met office information, NATS advises that these restrictions will remain in place in UK-controlled airspace until 0600 tomorrow (today) April 16, at the earliest."

The shutdown is even more drastic than in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks when transatlantic flights were grounded and London's skies were closed.

Airports were deserted and only a few hundred people remained at Heathrow yesterday.

Irish Independent

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