Flight ban extended into its fourth day

RESTRICTIONS on flights in and out of the UK have been extended until 1am tomorrow, air traffic control company Nats announced this morning.

Britain’s airspace will remain closed until that time

As schools Easter holidays come to an end, thousands of Britons are still stranded, trying to find other ways of making it home.

As the airline crisis deepened, the air traffic control company Nats announced an extension of the restrictions of flights in UK airspace, as the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland was “currently spread across the UK.”

A spokesman for Nats said: “There may be limited opportunity in Orkney and Shetland from 7pm today for some flights to operate under individual co-ordination with air traffic control.

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“However, it is most unlikely that many flights will operate today and anyone hoping to travel should contact their airline before travelling to the airport.<

“We will continue to monitor Met Office information and review our arrangements in line with that. We will advise further arrangements at about 3pm today.’’

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Transport secretary Lord Andrew Adonis said test flights were being carried out in the UK and other European countries today to help establish the impact of the ash cloud.

He said: “We want to be able to resume flights as soon as possible, but safety remains my paramount concern Lord Adonis added that everything possible was being done to help passengers.

“Key transport providers have laid on extra services - both East Coast and Virgin Trains are running extra rail services between London and Scotland while Eurostar, Eurotunnel, cross-channel ferry operators and international coach operators are all also carrying many more passengers than usual.

“We will continue to work closely with transport providers to ensure as many extra services as possible are being run.’’

Passengers are advised to contact their airlines directly. Lord Adonis said stranded passengers with return tickets on EU airlines have rights of assistance, including food and accomodation.

Volcanologists have warned the eruptions from Mount Eyjafjallajokull could continue for months.

And officials said airlines would continue to be subject to restrictions for as long as ash billows into British airspace.

Graeme Leitch of the Met Office said a change in the wind direction might mean flight restrictions could be lifted but there was no indication that any such change was imminent.

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