Dozens of Europe flights cancelled by ash cloud - UPDATED

Dozens of flights in France, Italy and Portugal were cancelled Sunday as airspace was closed because of an ash cloud drifting over from a volcano in Iceland.

Dozens of Europe flights cancelled by ash cloud - UPDATED

Dozens of flights in France, Italy and Portugal were cancelled Sunday as airspace was closed because of an ash cloud drifting over from a volcano in Iceland that caused major air travel chaos last month.

Weather forecasts said the ash cloud will gradually weaken as it spreads to southern parts of Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria by Sunday night. The ash, stretching from the surface up to 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), has forced the closure of airports throughout much of northern Italy.

Separately, a finger of the main ash cloud — centered in the mid-Atlantic at altitudes of up to 35,000 feet (10,500 meters) — was still touching on parts of Portugal and Spain, affecting airports at Porto, La Coruna, Vigo, and Santiago.

French authorities said nearly 70 flights were cancelled at Nice, Lyon, Bordeaux and Paris airports, most of them headed to Italy and Portugal where airspace was closed because of the risks of the ash.

However French airspace remained open, authorities said.

Nice is the nearest international airport to Cannes which is expecting hundreds of visitors for its flagship international film festival to start in three days' time.

Brussels airport listed at least six flights bound for North America as either delayed or canceled, with only one flight — an American Airlines flight to New York — having departed.

In Geneva, dozens of flights to Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland, Britain and Hungary were canceled, while Zurich airport listed flights to Washington, Dublin and Porto as canceled.

Geneva airport is one of the main hubs for budget carrier easyJet. The airline warned passengers Sunday to expect further disruption to flights operating to and from Switzerland, southern and central France, northern Italy and northern Portugal.

Some flights to and from the capital Lisbon were also affected, officials said, as the weather service announced the ash cloud could reach the city by Sunday evening.

Italian authorities said separately they closed airspace in the north of the country between 0600 GMT and 1200 GMT for the same reason.

The civil aviation authority said in a statement that the closure affected Milan airports but those in Venice and Trieste, also in the north, were spared.

Four airports in northern Spain were closed Sunday until at least 1400 GMT because of the ash cloud, the airport control authority said.

More than 900 flights were cancelled in northern Spain on Saturday with the major hub of Barcelona among the airports that were closed.

The Eyjafjoell volcano began erupting on April 14 and caused travel chaos worldwide with airspaces closed over several European nations for a week because of fears the ash would damage aircraft engines with fatal results.

It was the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled and eight million passengers affected. The airline industry said it lost some 2.5 billion euros.

Agencies

Last Mod: 09 Mayıs 2010, 15:32
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