Airlines return to skies as airspace reopens

As the volcanic dust settles, so the task of repatriating passengers begins.

All major UK airlines have returned to operations today.

However, many are warnings of delays – potentially into next week – as they battle the logistical headache of returning to normality.

Here Breaking Travel News takes a look at the latest developments.

British Airways hopes to operate all long-haul flights from Heathrow and Gatwick today, but stated there were likely to be delays to short-haul flights until 13:00.

“Safety is always our over-riding priority,” said British Airways’ chief executive Willie Walsh.

“We have many years of experience of operating in areas of volcanic activity all around the world.

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of customers stranded around the globe, we are delighted the authorities have paid heed to the arguments we and the industry have put forward.”

Passengers holding tickets for British Airways flights can check the status of their departure here.

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In a statement to passengers Virgin Atlantic stated the airline’s flying programme was returning to schedule.

“A small number of flights may have a delay as we reposition aircraft and crews,” explained the airline.

“We have to be cautious as we don’t know if UK airspace will close again but for the moment we are taking full advantage of the opportunity presented to us.”

Passengers can check the status of their flight here.

However, in an effort to repatriate passengers, Virgin stated it would not be accepting new bookings for any flight departing before April 30th.

Luton-based no-frills carrier easyJet confirmed it would also resume operations this morning, but explained delays were likely.

“Due to the extent of the disruption, it will take several days to resume normal operations and delays are likely,” explained the airline.

“Passengers booked on an easyJet flight tomorrow should go to easyJet.com before travelling to the airport to find the latest status of their flight.”

Regional carrier bmi outlined plans to resume flights from London Heathrow at 12:00 today.

The airline also stated a limited schedule of flights will be operated from regional UK airports, with passengers advised to visit flybmi.com for travel updates and individual flight status.

“Safety is bmi’s number one priority and the decision to cancel flights is based on continuing advice from the UK Met Office and NATS (air traffic control), who are tracking a cloud of ash which is moving through UK airspace and affecting all airlines,” added a statement.

Jet2.com was warning passengers all bookings for today remained cancelled. However, the airline will return to operations, with passengers urged to rebook their flights with the airline.

Those who have existing tickets for departures today will see the cost of their rebooked flight refunded.

Take a look at the Jet2.com website for the latest departure information.

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Around Europe

In Germany, Lufthansa will operate all long-haul flights from today. However, the flight plan for domestic and intra-European destinations will be gradually extended over the coming days.

As Frankfurt and Munich airports are still experiencing disruption, travellers with reservations for departures within Germany are advised to transfer to Deutsche Bahn to ensure connections are met.

“The planned flight operation depends on the current conditions,” read a statement.

“Lufthansa asks its passengers for their understanding, due the extraordinary circumstances short-term changes might be inevitable.”

Air France has issued a “guarantee” to passengers a near normal flight schedule will operate throughout its network today.

“Air France is doing all it can to help repatriate all its stranded passengers back to France and Europe,” added the airline.

Passengers can check the status of their departure here.

In the Netherlands, KLM will resume operations in a phased manner.

As such, the airline has begun to operate European flights into and out of Amsterdam, with all intercontinental flights expected to operate as normal today.

Resumption of normal schedules is expected in the next few days, with normal services to the United Kingdom expected from April 22nd.

Head over the website for the latest information.