Ash cloud update: UK airspace returns to normal

Ash cloud update: UK airspace returns to normal

Flights across the UK have returned to normal after the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcanic eruption cleared UK skies. Nats, the UK air traffic control company, said there is currently no impact from volcanic ash on UK airspace.

However airlines, including British Airways, have had to cancel some German services.

Nats, the UK air traffic control company, said it continues to closely monitoring the impact of the Grímsvötn volcanic eruption on UK airspace, and that “there is currently no impact from volcanic ash on UK airspace”.

A UK Met Office official said the Grímsvötn volcano had stopped erupting, easing concerns that the cloud could return to the UK on Friday as the bank holiday gets underway.

The UK all-clear followed the cancellation of over 500 flights to and from Scotland and some other parts of northern Europe on Tuesday.

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Eurocontrol, the European air traffic agency, said the majority of cancellations came after airspace was closed because ash was detected at high enough levels potentially to damage aircraft.

The number of flights affected was about 10 percent of the total number that used UK airspace on Tuesday.

Airlines including British Airways, EasyJet, KLM and Ryanair were forced to cancel flights to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Siim Kallas, Europe’s transport commissioner said: “We do not at this point anticipate a widespread airspace closure”.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said Grímsvötn – the country’s most active volcano – emitted more ash during the first 24 hours last weekend than Eyjafjallajökull had throughout the entire period of activity in April and May last year.

However the ash particles are coarser and heavier, which brings them back to earth more rapidly. Also winds blowing to the north round Iceland have kept the clouds away from other countries’ airspace. Rain has also helped to wash some of the ash out of the sky.

While Grímsvötn’s ash initially rose up to 20km (12 miles), a height at which it could easily be carried long distances, the plume has since fallen to an altitude of 5km to 9km.