Flights chaos to continue into tomorrow

TRAVEL misery is set to continue as restrictions on all flights into and out of the UK is extended until 1am tomorrow.

Air traffic control company, Nats, made the announcement this morning, saying it was working closely with Government, airports and airlines to get a better understanding of the effects of cloud of volcanic ash.

The news will bring further chaos as stranded travellers try to return to the UK as the school Easter holidays come to an end.

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 Nats spokesman said: “Conditions around the movement of the layers of the volcanic ash cloud over the UK remain dynamic.

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“We are maintaining close dialogue with the Met Office and with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in respect of the international civil aviation policy we follow in applying restrictions to use of airspace. We are currently awaiting CAA guidance.

“We are working closely with government, airports and airlines, and airframe and aero engine manufacturers to get a better understanding of the effects of the ash cloud and to seek solutions.”

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Nats said it would continue to monitor Met Office information and review its arrangements in line with that. A further announcement about flights would be around 3pm today.

The further extension of the restrictions means the UK, with the exception of a very few services that have been able to run, has been a “no-fly zone” since around noon last Thursday.

Passengers are advised to contact their airlines directly.

Transport secretary Lord Adonis said stranded passengers with return tickets on EU airlines have rights of assistance, including food and accommodation.

He added 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 said 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,” he said.

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

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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