Developments in volcanic ash affecting air travel

Here are the latest highlights regarding problems for air travel caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

-- British air space remains closed at least until 1 a.m. local time on Monday (8 p.m. ET on Sunday), the National Air Traffic Services said. Some flights may be possible out of the remote islands of Orkney and Shetland, off the north coast of Scotland, the agency said.

British Airways canceled all flights in and out of London on Sunday and Monday, the airline announced.

-- Spain closed 11 airports in the north, the country's first closure of airports due to the cloud of volcanic ash, the government airport authority AENA said. The airport in the capital, Madrid, remains open.

The airports will be closed at least until 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) on Sunday. Two more Spanish airports -- at Palma de Mallorca and Menorca -- might close later on Sunday.

More than 1,200 flights between Spain and northern Europe are being canceled Sunday.

-- Ireland extended its air space closure through 1 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) on Monday and said restrictions past then were "likely" in light of current weather forecasts.

-- Switzerland is not permitting flights before 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) Monday, the government said.

-- Germany, Finland, Sweden and Denmark all extended the closure of their air space, their national aviation authorities said.

German air space will remain closed at least until 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET) on Sunday.

There will be no flights in or out of Finnish airports before 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET) on Monday.

Swedish air space is closed until further notice.

There will be no flights in Danish air space before 2 a.m. local time on Monday (8 p.m. Sunday night ET).


-- Air China and China Southern Airlines, the nation's two major international flight operators, said Sunday they have canceled the majority of their flights to Europe.

-- In France, Paris' Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will remain closed until 8 a.m. local time Monday (2 a.m. ET) by order of the French Civil Aviation, Air France said on its Web site late Saturday. Meteorological conditions permitting, Air France said it will operate three flights out of Toulouse on Sunday, bound for Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe; Montreal, Quebec; and Fort-de-France, Martinique.

-- Lufthansa has extended its flight cancellations until 8 p.m. Sunday German time (2 p.m. ET).

-- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines carried out a test flight Saturday evening in the Netherlands air space and found that the air quality in the atmosphere met the requirements for safe flight, said Peter Hartman, president & CEO.

The airline used a Boeing 737-800 that flew to an altitude of 41,000 feet (about 13 kilometers), which is the maximum altitude for that type of aircraft.

KLM expects to receive the final results of the technical inspection Sunday morning. If the results hold, the airline will ask for permission to resume its operations.

-- Flight restrictions for the United Kingdom will remain in place until at least 7 p.m. Sunday (2 p.m. ET), the air traffic control agency NATS said.

-- British airport operating company BAA warned passengers not to travel to its airports -- Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

-- European air traffic control officials expected about 5,000 flights to take place Saturday in European air space, a drop from a normal day of about 22,000, according to Eurocontrol, the region's air traffic authority. On Friday, there were 10,400 flights compared with the customary 28,000.

-- There are restrictions on civil flights across most of northern and central Europe. This swath includes Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, most of France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, northern Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

-- Upper air space has been made available in some of these restricted areas, depending on the observed and forecast area of ash contamination, air traffic officials said.

-- Parts of southern Europe, including the southern Balkan area, southern Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey remain open and flights are taking place in these areas, the officials said.

-- Approximately 600 transatlantic flights take place each day, 300 in each direction. Instead of the 300 flights that would usually arrive in Europe, 73 flights arrived in Europe on Saturday morning.

-- The Icelandic volcano was still erupting Saturday, according to an official with Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. He said it's not clear when the eruption will end.

-- Russia's 10 international airports, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, are all experiencing flight delays or cancellations because of the ash, the Russian Transport Ministry said. Russian national railway company RZHD said it has added extra cars to trains running between Europe and Russia.

-- Australian airline Qantas canceled all flights Saturday to and from London, England, and Frankfurt, Germany, its only two European destinations. Further cancellations are likely, the airline said.

-- Irish budget carrier Ryanair canceled all flights to northern European destinations and Milan, Italy, until Monday because of the volcanic ash, the airline said.



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