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Developments in volcanic ash affecting air travel

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Eurocontrol calls for new look at restrictions, establishes limited "no-fly zone"
  • European airspace has had 8,700 flights Monday; 28,000 flights called normal
  • Denmark's upper airspace opens, lower airspace remains closed
  • UK airspace will "progressively open" Tuesday, air traffic control service said

(CNN) -- Here are the latest highlights regarding problems for air travel caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

New developments:

• The volcanic eruption strengthened Tuesday, and "a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK," the United Kingdom's air traffic control services said in a statement. "This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working."

The latest information shows that "the situation is worsening in some areas," National Air Traffic Services said. "Based on this information, the situation for Northern Irish airports for the morning is uncertain, due to the new ash cloud."

• Scottish airports, as announced, should be available from 7 a.m. (2 a.m. ET), and more UK airspace could become available from 1 p.m. (8 a.m. ET), "although not as far south as the main London airports."

• The situation may change overnight, Air Traffic Services said. "We are working closely with government, airports and airlines, and airframe and aero engine manufacturers to get a better understanding of the effects of the ash cloud and to seek solutions."


• About 8,700 flights have taken place in European airspace Monday, said Eurocontrol, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation. A normal Monday would see about 28,000 flights, it has said.

• Eruption of the volcano previously had "virtually ceased," but it was erupting to between 10,000 and 15,000 feet Monday, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in London, England, said. CNN's Gary Tuchman in Iceland said lava was starting to flow on the mountain, but not on the ground, and the ash cloud was large.

• European officials "concluded that, while the initial reaction by the states was prudent and reduced risk to an absolute minimum, it was now time to move towards a harmonized European approach that permitted flights -- but only where safety is not compromised," said Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. Eurocontrol hosted the news conference, which included the European Commission, several European nations, air navigation service providers and technical experts.

• A limited "no-fly zone" will be established by the nations concerned, based on forecasts from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center. Airlines will be permitted to operate outside the zone. "In their decision as to whether to fly, they will be supported by shared data including advice from the scientific community ... including safety assessments supported by tests," Eurocontrol said. "In time, it should be possible to move towards an approach in which full discretion is given to aircraft operators."

• Finland said F-18 jets flown in training missions Thursday over northern Finland showed "accumulations of powdery volcanic dust" in the aircraft intakes. Images of one aircraft's engine showed ingested ash had melted under high temperatures in the combustion chamber. Melted ash could block cooling passages and may result in engine damage and overheating, the Finnish Ministry of Defense said Monday.

• A British Airways test Sunday found no damage to a passenger aircraft at a variety of altitudes, the airline said in a statement Monday. "The analysis we have done so far, alongside that from other airlines' trial flights, provides fresh evidence that the current blanket restrictions on airspace are unnecessary," BA chief executive Willie Walsh argued in the statement.

• The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it "supports the decision by the European Commission to resume air traffic in parts of continental Europe. Safety is the main priority for both U.S. and European aviation authorities." The agency said it remains ready to assist both the air carriers and colleagues in Europe in helping stranded passengers and safely resuming air service between North America and Europe.

• "There cannot be any compromise on safety" when deciding when to open European airspace, said Siim Kallas, the European Commission vice president in charge of transport, as some airlines pressed to be allowed to fly. The decision "must be based on science," he said.

Airlines cannot apply directly to the European Union for bailout funds, he added; national governments must make the request.

• European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso ordered the formation of a group to study the impact of the volcanic ash cloud on the European economy and the air travel industry.

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• Airports have lost close to 136 million euros ($183 million U.S.) so far, said Olivier Jankovec, director general of Airports Council International Europe, a group that represents airports. More than 6.8 million passengers have been affected, he said.

• The disruption is costing airlines at least $200 million a day in lost revenues, said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, an industry trade group. He said Monday that if flight restrictions continue, some small- and medium-size airlines could be put in jeopardy.

• British Airways is losing about 15 million to 20 million British pounds ($23 million to $30 million) a day, including the costs to passengers, chief executive Willie Walsh said in a statement. The airline "has significant funding available to sustain it," he said.

• IATA criticized European governments "for their lack of leadership in handling airspace restrictions" and "urged a re-think of the decision-making process" for closing European skies.

• Results of test flights show "there's no impact" in European Union airspace from the volcanic ash, European Union Secretary of State Diego Lopez Garrido said Sunday.


• Austrian airspace, including all Austrian airports, reopened at 5 a.m. Monday (11 p.m. ET Sunday), said the Austrian aviation agency Austro Control. It will continue to monitor the situation and has not ruled out another closure in the coming hours.


• The Brussels airport has confirmed arrivals will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday (2 a.m. ET). Departures will begin at 2 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) if the air quality remains clear, officials said.


• Flights into and out of St. John's, Gander and Deer Lake, Newfoundland, may be affected by volcanic activity, AirCanada said.


• The Danish Aviation Authority said its upper airspace -- above 35,500 feet -- was open as of 2:30 p.m. Monday (8:30 a.m. ET). Denmark's airspace below 35,500 feet remained closed, and will be closed until at least 8 a.m. Tuesday (2 a.m. ET), it said.


• Finland, which had opened airspace over two airports briefly, closed airspace at one of them. As of 8 p.m. Monday (1 p.m. ET), flight restrictions were in place at Helsinki and Turku airports, the Finland Aviation Authority said. Tampere-Pirkkala airport is open until midnight (5 p.m. ET). Earlier, the aviation authority had opened airspace to Tampere-Pirkkala and Turku airports, citing "a break" in the ash cloud.

• U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has canceled a trip to Helsinki, Finland, because of continued aviation difficulties involving the ash cloud, a State Department official said Monday. Clinton had been set to leave for Helsinki on Tuesday. A decision has not been made on whether Clinton will visit Tallinn, Estonia, the official said. If she does, she would not leave Washington before Wednesday.


• Airports north of a line from Nantes to Nice will undergo "a partial reopening," French officials said. Air corridors will be opened between Paris and the airports of the south, including Bordeaux-Paris, Toulouse-Paris, Marseilles, Paris and Nice from 8 a.m. Tuesday (2 a.m. ET). Lyon's airport will open Monday night.

• France reopened airports in Toulouse, Montpellier, Pau, Tarbes, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Nice, and Marseilles until 3 p.m. Monday (9 a.m. ET), when they will reassess the situation.

• Air France is busing passengers from de Gaulle down to these airports in the south of the country. The airline plans to have seven flights leave France on Monday: six from Toulouse airport and one from Pau.

It also hopes to have nine nine flights fly into France on Monday: into airports in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice and Marseilles.

• The French national rail company SNCF is adding 80,000 extra places on the Eurostar high-speed trains running from Paris to London this week. Tickets will cost a special fare of 96 euros (about $130) round trip, less than half the normal last-minute price.


• German airspace will remain closed until 2 p.m. Tuesday (8 a.m. ET). This does not affect an earlier announcement from Lufthansa that it will fly 50 airplanes currently in 15 intercontinental destinations back to Germany beginning late Monday.

• Germany's Lufthansa airline will fly 50 airplanes currently stopped in 15 intercontinental destinations back to Germany and will bring back 15,000 people. The flights will begin late Monday, and the first -- a flight from the Middle East -- is due to land at 3 a.m. Tuesday (9 p.m. ET Monday). Some domestic flights will also begin Monday night, the airline said.


• Ireland extended its airspace closure through 6 p.m. (1 p.m. ET) Monday.


• The airspace in northern Italy is closed until 8 a.m. Tuesday (2 a.m. ET), the country's civil aviation authority said. Airspace throughout the rest of the country opened at 7 a.m. Monday (1 a.m. ET), but the situation remains fluid with officials checking how long it can remain open, the civil aviation authority said.

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• Three KLM flights will leave Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), according to the airline. The flights are bound for Shanghai, China; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and New York's JFK airport. Priority was given to transit passengers, KLM said, but it could not confirm the exact number of passengers aboard.

• Intercontinental flights scheduled to arrive in Amsterdam on Monday "will be decided on a case-by-case basis, at the latest four hours before departure," KLM said.


• The airspace over Oslo airport (Gardermoen), and Kjevik, Torp and Rygge airports opened Monday.


• About half the airspace in Poland is open, but that over Krakow remains closed, an airport official in the historic city said Monday.


• Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport will resume some flights to Europe, Israel, Egypt and Turkey. Twelve Russian airports canceled a total of 448 flights Monday morning. An additional 80 were delayed, and two were postponed, affecting nearly 39,000 passengers.

Sheremetyevo airport has been affected by far more than others: 277 canceled flights and 59 delayed, with more than 28,000 people stranded.

• Across the country, 448 flights were canceled, 80 delayed, and two postponed, affecting almost 39,000 passengers.


• Scotland will reopen its airspace at 7 a.m. Tuesday (2 a.m. ET), the United Kingdom's air traffic control service said. "The volcanic eruption has reduced and the volcano is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK," it said. Airspace above England and Wales, including London, may be opened later Tuesday.


• All 16 airports in Spain were scheduled to reopen at 3:30 p.m. Sunday (9:30 a.m. ET) -- several hours earlier than previously expected, the government announced.


• The airspace north and west of the flight corridor from Stockholm to Gothenburg opened Monday morning. The airspace around Bromma Airport has also opened.


• Switzerland is not permitting flights before 8 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) Tuesday, the government said.


Thai Airways, based in Bangkok, estimates the cloud is costing the airline $3 million a day and has stranded 6,000 of its passengers.

United Arab Emirates

• Emirates airline says the disruption has cost it $50 million.

• The United Arab Emirates will not impose penalties on anyone who overstays a visa as a result of the travel disruption, the Interior Ministry said.

United Kingdom

• UK airspace will "progressively open" Tuesday, the United Kingdom's air traffic control service said.

• Britain's Manchester Airport will reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday (4 a.m. ET) unless there is a deterioration in conditions, the agency said.

• British Airways will aim to resume some flights into and out of London's airports beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday (2 p.m. ET) "following the proposed reopening of UK and European airspace by the aviation authorities."

• The British Royal Navy is deploying two ships, HMS Ocean and HMS Ark Royal, to rescue travelers stranded by the ash, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced. The Ocean is in southern British waters, standing by for orders. The Ark Royal, which was on an exercise off the northwest coast of Scotland, is sailing south to provide further assistance.

The navy's HMS Albion will arrive in Santander, Spain, on Tuesday morning, "where its primary role will be to collect U.K. service personnel who have recently left the ongoing operation in Afghanistan," Britain's Ministry of Defense said.

• The British Air Transport Association, with support from all major UK airlines, wrote a letter to Britain's secretary of state for transport, Lord Andrew Adonis, with a copy to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other officials. The letter, according to a statement from the association, "stressed the critical nature of the current situation facing the public and airline industry; sought a restart of flights at the earliest opportunity in a safe and risk-assessed manner; welcomed the government's support for repatriation of stranded travelers; and asked [the] government to commit to standing behind the industry financially at this very difficult time."

Other countries

• There are restrictions on civil flights across most of northern and central Europe. This swath includes Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

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