Ash cloud restrictions lifted across UK

Ash cloud restrictions lifted across UK

Flight restrictions have been lifted at all UK airports after the volcanic ash cloud over UK airspace moved away, and there will be no flight groundings on the mainland at least until 0100 BST on Tuesday, UK air traffic control said.

However knock-on disruption continues after a weekend that saw thousands of passengers stranded.

Now airport operators are advising passengers to check for delays to their flights with airlines.

British Airways’ chief executive Willie Walsh criticised the weekend’s restrictions as “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk”.

The country’s two largest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, reopened at 7am today but were only operating limited flight schedules.

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To add to the misery for passengers, British Airways cabin crew are poised to start a series of strikes tomorrow.

A no-fly order imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority closed Heathrow and Gatwick until 7am and both only partially reopened during the day.

Flights were also grounded until lunchtime across Northern Ireland and much of Scotland and Wales, with warnings of widespread knock-on disruption later in the day.

BAA said in a statement: “All of BAA’s airports (Heathrow, Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton) are open, and there are no restrictions in place. It is likely that some delays and cancellations will go on throughout the day and we continue to advise passengers to check the status of their flights with airlines.”

Passengers have been advised to check with their airlines before travelling to the airport.

Rail services are stepping in to provide extra services for stranded passengers. Virgin Trains is providing an extra 7,000 seats on Monday, and Eurostar is increasing services to Europe.

Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds Bradford airports have reopened after closures on Sunday, but a number of airports were remained shut today, with those in Northern Ireland and Aberdeen expected to remain shut until at least 1pm.

Others were closed at 7am due to the movement of the cloud but have since reopened. These include Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Edinburgh, Inverness, and northern Scotland. Only Shetland and Orkney airports are closed to planes.

Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, said the industry needed “strong leadership” to avoid “doing further unnecessary damage to the UK economy and lives of travellers.”

He said: “All the test flights by airlines, aircraft and engine manufacturers have shown no evidence that airlines could not continue to fly completely safety.”