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UK Airspace To Start Opening Tomorrow (Tuesday)
19 April 2010 @ 19:43

Airspace in Scotland is to reopen from 0700 tomorrow as dust from the Icelandic volcano ceases to affect UK airspace.

 

Sky sources understand airspace in the Midlands will then reopen at 1200 and southern UK at 1800.

Air traffic control company Nats is lifting restrictions restrictions for Scotland and parts of the North of England.

Airspace south to a line between Teesside and Blackpool will also be open.

It's understood that UK airports will then be allowed to conduct operations 24 hours a day until the flight situation returns to normal.

Nats said: "The volcanic eruption has reduced and the volcano is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK.

"Assuming there are no further significant ash emissions, we are now looking at a continuously improving situation.

"This is a dynamic and changing situation and is therefore difficult to forecast beyond 0700 local."

The news will come as an enormous relief to cash-strapped airlines and the estimated 150,000 Britons stranded abroad by the flights ban.

The go-ahead for flights came as airlines pointed to successful test flights through closed airspace as a reason for lifting restrictions.

The British Air Transport Association that includes airlines British Airways, Flybe, Easyjet and Virgin, has written to the govenment calling on flights to be restarted.

"We remain concerned that the approach taken by NATS has been too sweeping and that key decisions have been taken on very limited empirical data," the letter to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said.

"While safety of the travelling public must have the highest priority, we urge NATS and the CAA to examine all available data sources and the practice in areas of the world that have greater experience of operating in areas of volcanic activity with a view to allowing a decision to reopen UK airspace and airlines to resume their usual operations."

The letter also called for government compensation for the airlines.

British Airways had carried out a test flight yesterday and said it has provided fresh evidence that blanket airspace restrictions were unnecessary.

The airline's chief executive Willie Walsh yesterday took a two-hour flight at 40,000ft which turned up no sign of damage to the aircraft or its engines.

But the BA findings contradicted information from military sources.

A senior Western diplomat said several Nato F-16 fighter jets that flew through the ash cloud had suffered engine damage, saying glass-like deposits were found inside the planes' engines.

The crisis is estimated to be costing the European aviation industry more than £130m a day.

Source: Sky News



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