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Volcanic ash grounds 250 flights

Wed 25th May 2011

The UK Government and Met office has attracted criticism from many airlines for being overly cautious and panicking in reaction to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano over the weekend.

Clouds of ash had drifted towards Scotland and the North of England, and had prompted the authorities to classify the affected airspace in three different zones - with each zone representing a different density of ash particles at differing altitudes. The zone with the highest perceived threat was designated as a 'no fly' zone, with the next allowing flight only after specific application to do so, and strict supervision by NATS, the airports authority.

As a result, dozens of flights to and from Scotland and Northern England were cancelled but Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said how he believed that the worst was over for air passengers. However, NATS advised passengers to continue checking airline updates before travelling.

Over 250 flights were cancelled across Europe yesterday after plumes of ash spewed across the continent. Scottish airports were badly affected, with hundreds of passengers forced to wait for hours only to discover their flights had been cancelled last night.

Newcastle, Carlisle and Durham Tyne Tees Airports also faced disruption, although skies further south remained clear. British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Flybe and KLM were among carriers cancelling flights.

The cancellations effected 26 flights between Spain and the UK.

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