UK airspace reopens as ash cloud dissipates

Airspace across the United Kingdom and Irish Republic has reopened following the latest disruption from volcanic ash.

Yesterday a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) saw airports in Northern Ireland and west Scotland close from early morning onward, with hundreds of flights subsequently cancelled.

A similar decision from the Irish Aviation Authority saw airports across the country close.

This morning the high density area of volcanic ash which had drifted over the UK has moved west, according to the CAA, with no-fly zones removed as a result.

“According to latest information from the Met Office, from 07:00 today all UK airfields will be available,” said National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

“We continue to maintain close dialogue with the Met Office and with the CAA, which is responsible for imposing no-fly zones.

“We will issue any further notice as necessary.”

All airfields in Northern Ireland - including Belfast, Islay, Campbeltown, Ronaldsway, Lands End and the Isles of Scilly - were declared free from flight restrictions at 07:00 this morning.

Glasgow airport reopened earlier in the morning, while Edinburgh saw planes back on the runway late on Wednesday evening.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) confirmed airports in the Irish Republic started to reopen at 04:00 BST, with airspace fully operational at 09:00.

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Ongoing Concern

However, the CAA has warned the latest disruption could be just the start of an ongoing problem with volcanic ash.

Commenting on the situation, Andrew Haines, CAA chief executive said: “Ash is likely to continue to disrupt UK air travel for the foreseeable future and our advice to passengers is to listen to updates and contact their airline before leaving home if they are concerned their travel plans may be affected.

“The CAA is continuing to lead international efforts to develop more detailed scientific understanding of the situation to minimise disruption without compromising passenger safety.”

The CAA has been working with aircraft manufactures to establish safe engine tolerance levels to volcanic ash.

“The situation for UK airspace, particularly over the North and Scotland, remains unprecedented.

“Volcanic ash is a known hazard to aircraft and the previously accepted procedure adopted all over the world was to avoid ash completely.

“For the first time an ash cloud is affecting airspace where there is not the room to do this.

“So the CAA had to develop new safety procedures enabling flights to continue whilst flying close to or through the ash cloud.

“We were able to reopen the skies last month having secured agreement from manufacturers on safe levels of ash tolerance.”