Ash Cloud Grounds UK Flights

In Europe, News Headlines, Volcanoes

Eighty-six Loganair and East Airways flights have been shelved because of the density of the ash thrown out by the erupting Grimsvötn volcano.

New rules mean airlines can now carry on flying through lower densities of ash but much of the plume crossing Britain appears to be dense enough to ground air traffic.

It has a concentration of more than 4g per 10m³ (353ft³) of air – putting it in the ‘high’ category.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, said it was unclear how badly flights would be affected.

He said: ‘We have better measuring equipment and we have better relationships with airlines so it should be much better but we’re still at the hands of both the weather and the volcano; those are the two uncertainties.’

Barry Gromett, of the Met Office, said: ‘The latest pictures show pretty much all of Scotland under the influence of higher concentrations of ash.’

Shares in Ryanair fell 5.6 per cent as analysts anticipated expensive delays. Easyjet and Lufthansa fell more than four per cent.

Europe’s air traffic control organisation said if volcanic emissions continued at the same rate the cloud could reach western French and northern Spanish airspace.

The volcano was still erupting on Monday night, leaving some areas of Iceland in total darkness, closing roads and imprisoning people in their homes.

Scientists are confident the eruption will not cause the same disruption as the Eyjafjallajökull volcano last year, because the airline industry is better prepared and the weather conditions are more favourable.

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