UK airspace could re-open Tuesday

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Airports in the UK remained closed Monday due to the Icelandic
volcano eruption but conditions are improving, according to the UK’s National
Air Traffic Services.

The eruption of the volcano has
reduced and it is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK, said the
NATA site.

“Assuming there are no further
significant ash emissions we are now looking at a continuously improving situation.
Based on the latest information from the Met Office, NATS advises that the
restrictions currently in place across UK controlled airspace will remain in place until 7am Tuesday,” it read.

After that, Scottish airspace and
mainland Scottish airports will open as will the north of England from Teeside and Blackpool
upwards. The association said that according to information from the UK
Metrological Office the ash cloud will continue to move south, meaning restrictions
to England and Wales
airspace may also be lifted imminently. Arrangements are constantly being reviewed
on advice from the Met Office.

“It is now for airports and
airlines to decide how best to utilise this opportunity. Passengers should
contact their airlines to find out how this will affect their travel plans,”
read the release.

Around 63,000 flights have been
cancelled in European airspace between 15 and 18 April, said the United Nations
World Tourism Organisation, who said that millions of people in Europe and beyond had been affected by the disruption.

“The most important issue is that
travellers are unable to move – to leave or return – and that airlines, hotels,
tour operators as well as local tourism authorities and diplomatic
representations are facing extreme pressures to respond in the most adequate
way possible to safeguard the rights and well being of travellers,” they said
in a press release.

The organisation said it urged the
travel industry’s public and private sector to act fairly in putting responsibility
to travelers first, fostering close co-operation in order to mitigate as much
as possible the negative impact of the current situation, and to respect
existing travellers’ rights.

Cancellation

British Airways said they were
aiming to resume some flights in and out of London airports as of 7pm Tuesday, said BA’s
Marcia Erskine.

“We are working on detailed plans
to help as many customers as possible who have been unable to fly due to the
unprecedented circumstances that have faced all airlines operating in northern Europe over the last five days.

“We will aim to give customers as
much notice as possible of our flight programme. [Tuesday] we will aim to
operate long haul departures that were scheduled to depart after 4pm and
short haul departures scheduled to depart after 7pm.

“This will however be subject to
the full and permanent opening of airspace. All flights before these times have
been cancelled,” she noted.

Because of this, the Tuesday
morning flight, BA0253, scheduled from London Heathrow to Cayman via Nassau, has been
cancelled.

Refunds

Ms Erskine said that the carrier,
like many others, had significant logistical issues due to the enforced no-fly
this weekend.

“We have more than 80 aircraft and
almost 3,000 cabin crew and pilots out of position overseas across our global
network. All of these aircraft will require detailed checks before they are
cleared to enter service again.
“Inevitably, this will mean some delays and we ask for our customers’ patience
and understanding in these very difficult circumstances.
Customers should check their exact flight details on ba.com and only come to
the airport if they have a booking and their flight is operating,” explained
the BA representative.

Customers booked to travel on a
cancelled flight can claim a full refund or rebook their flight for a later
date, she added.

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Volcano activity has subsided but flights are still affected
Photo: Julia Staples/Reyjavik Grapevine
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