Scotland

Scottish flights disrupted by volcano ash plume

Severe disruption at Scottish airports caused by drifting volcanic ash from Iceland is set to continue for the rest of the day.

Thousands of passengers have been affected after airlines suspended services in and out of Scotland.

Both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports confirmed that there would be no more flights on Tuesday.

They said fresh statements would be issued later about when flights would resume on Wednesday.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said high concentrations of volcanic ash would remain in parts of Scotland's airspace until 0100 BST on Wednesday.

The Red Cross confirmed that more than 30 volunteers would spend a second night at Edinburgh Airport helping stranded passengers.

They were ready to hand out blankets, hygiene kits and bottled water.

Ryanair had earlier checked in passengers at Edinburgh Airport, where it told the management it intended to fly its six scheduled flights in the afternoon and evening.

But passengers who were on board have now been taken off and Ryanair has cancelled the flights. Airlines require final approval from the CAA to take off.

Ryanair had disputed whether the ash "red zone" in Scottish airspace existed, after carrying out a test flight.

But the CAA said the flight had not gone through the high contamination area.

Airport managers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen said the flights situation was very fluid and urged passengers to contact their airlines.

Aberdeen Airport resumed operations on Tuesday afternoon once the ash cloud was confirmed as having passed over.

Glasgow Airport advised all customers to check with their airline for updates. Some of its passengers were being taken to Manchester by bus.

Amanda McMillan, managing director of the airport, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "For us the priority is to work with the airlines and understand from them what flight schedule they intend to operate and then run the airport around that flight schedule."

Ms McMillan said a "huge review", including revised protocols, after volcanic ash disrupted UK airspace last year meant planning to handle the impact took place throughout the night with airlines.

Passenger Pat Gribbon, from Renfrew, was due to travel to Majorca from Glasgow for a holiday with his wife, Rita.

He said: "Everyone has been very helpful. It's just a question of waiting. I suppose it's just one of those things. No-one can help it, but it is frustrating. I feel sorry for people with kids."

Transport Minister Keith Brown said the Scottish government's welcomed the resumption of flights from airports in the north of Scotland.

He said: "The Scottish government's Resilience Room which has been activated since the severe weather started remains in operation overnight to oversee the progression of the Grimsvotn volcano ash cloud and the advised impact on Scottish airports.

"Although the latest information we have from the airline industry warns of possible disruption at Scottish airports across the central swathe of Scotland later this evening and into the early hours of tomorrow, we have seen an improving picture as the ash cloud clears from the north."

Image caption Residents in parts of the Highlands have reported ash settling on cars

Highlands and Islands Airports cancelled its morning flights to and from Inverness but offered a limited service in tech afternoon.

Residents in the Highlands, including Inverness, Caithness and Sutherland, have reported finding their cars covered in a fine covering of brown ash.

Flight cancellations come just over a year after another volcanic eruption in Iceland caused widespread disruption across Europe, including the closure of UK airspace, amid concerns about the damage volcanic ash could cause to engine aircraft.

This year, in the UK, the decision on whether to fly or not in ash cloud conditions is down to individual airlines, although they have to apply to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for final approval.

A number of airlines are chose not to fly through Scottish airspace on Tuesday:

  • British Airways cancelled all flights to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh on Tuesday
  • KLM cancelled flights to and from Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Newcastle as well as flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport
  • EasyJet cancelled flights to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen through until 1900 BST. It hopes to operate an Aberdeen-Luton flight later
  • Ryanair said it was going ahead with flights from Edinburgh after its test flight, but then cancelled all Scottish flights
  • Flybe cancelled flights to and from Aberdeen and Inverness but it expected to resume these in the afternoon
  • BMI said flights to and from Aberdeen were subject to delay, but all services in and out of Glasgow and Edinburgh on Tuesday were cancelled. It hopes to resume flights on Wednesday
  • Glasgow-based Loganair cancelled a large number flights. Only inter-island routes in Orkney are unaffected, with a small number flights to Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles also expected to fly in the afternoon
  • Eastern Airways will not be operating any services in or out of Scottish airspace

Since last year, the CAA has graded ash levels as low, medium or high, and airlines are notified if levels reach medium or high.

All British aircraft can fly in medium-density ash but the airlines need to consider whether to fly, according to risk assessments.

A CAA spokesman said the current cloud could "potentially" cause serious disruption as charts showed that the ash density below 35,000ft had reached the highest level at more than 4,000 microgrammes per cubic metre.

The Foreign Office is advising passengers to remain in regular contact with their travel agent or airline for the latest news on the status of flights and bookings.

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