Three of the biggest UK carriers have cancelled all short-haul departures until at least Wednesday morning, as the Icelandic ash cloud continues to spread.
While National Air Travel Services (NATS) had previously outlined hopes airspace over the United Kingdom may reopen later today, a second ash cloud is sweeping across the Atlantic, causing further disruption.
As a result, airlines across the country are reassessing their positions.
Following the latest information from NATS about the path of the volcanic ash affecting UK airspace, British Airways has taken the decision not to operate any short-haul flights today.
The airline had been planning to operate short-haul flights scheduled to depart after 19:00 tonight, but these have now been cancelled.
“We realise this is disappointing for customers, however the circumstances are outside of all airlines’ control,” explained a statement.
“Customers booked to travel on a cancelled flight can claim a full refund or rebook their flight for a later date.”
The airline was still hoping to operate long-haul flights which are scheduled to depart after 16:00. This, however, remains subject to the full and permanent opening of airspace.
Adopting a similar line, easyJet has confirmed it will not operate any flights in northern Europe until at least 01:00 on Wednesday April 21st.
“Safety is the airline’s top priority and we are working closely with regulators and the government to ensure we can resume flying as soon as possible,” read a statement.
The airline will continue to offer a limited number of flights in southern Europe, and passengers who are booked to travel with easyJet are advised to visit the company’s website before departure.
“Passengers who are booked to travel on a cancelled flight should not travel to the airport but should instead arrange either a full refund or a free transfer to another flight on the same route within 30 days of the original flight date through our website,” the airline added.
Ryanair also confirmed that, based on current meteorological forecasts and the continuing emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere over Iceland, it has decided to cancel all flights until 13:00 on Wednesday.
Departures from the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Poland and the Baltic States will be affected.
However, Ryanair flights from Spain, the Canary and Baleric islands, the south of Italy (including Pisa, Rome, Sardinia and Sicily), Malta and North Africa will continue to operate domestic and southbound routes.
“This spreading cloud of volcanic ash is unprecedented in Ryanair’s experience, and we are continuing to work around the clock to minimise its effects on our schedules and passengers,” explained chief executive Michael O’Leary.