Irish airspace closed due to volcanic ash plume.

Hundreds of thousands of travellers face a fourth day of disruption today as the volcanic ash plume continues to drift south and east of Iceland.

The cloud of volcanic ash that has covered much of Northern Europe still is not clearing and it remains unsafe for planes to take to the skies.

The International Civil Aviation Authority says the disruption to air travel is greater than the shutdown of airspace following the 11 September attacks in the US.

The Irish Aviation Authority has extended the closure of Irish airspace to commercial traffic until 1pm tomorrow.

The IAA said: ‘No commercial passenger flights, including North American traffic, will operate from any Irish airport during this period.

‘Met experts are predicting that the prevailing weather conditions will continue in the coming days. Ongoing restrictions are therefore likely.’

The IAA said it has based its decision on the latest reports from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London.

Maurice Mullen of the Department of Transport has said restrictions on air travel are likely to remain for most of this week.

Mr Mullen was speaking after this morning’s meeting of the Government’s task force on emergency planning.

He said Irish embassies and consulates are reporting increased inquiries from Irish citizens stranded overseas, some concerning travel and some concerning financial issues.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs are now dealing with a number of hardship cases.

Photo Credit: RTE News
Photo Credit: RTE News

Aer Lingus cancels Monday flights

Aer Lingus has confirmed that all UK, European and US flights scheduled to depart tomorrow have been cancelled. This includes Aer Lingus regional flights.

Ryanair was to make a further announcement on flights tomorrow and Tuesday at about 3pm today.

All major airports across northern and central Europe were closed overnight and flight restrictions in Britain have been extended until 7am tomorrow morning.

There has been a surge in demand for bus, rail and ferry services as people try to make it home from holidays.

Meanwhile, the cost to the air travel industry is now expected to rise, as around 17,000 flights were cancelled yesterday and thousands of passengers were left stranded.

Dutch airline KLM has said a test flight it carried out yesterday had revealed no engine damage or other problems from volcanic ash and it would run a further nine test flights.

A spokesman said: ‘We have not found anything unusual and no irregularities, which indicates the atmosphere is clean and safe to fly.’

The European Commission is to set up a group to assess the economic impact of the crisis and said any steps taken across the EU needed to be properly coordinated.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: ‘The volcanic ash cloud has created an unprecedented situation.

‘I have asked (EU Transport Commissioner Siim) Kallas to coordinate the Commission’s response and fully assess the impact of the situation created by the volcanic ash cloud on the economy, and the air travel industry in particular.

‘It is important that all measures to be considered are coordinated at the European level.’

Source: RTE News