Skies opening for aviation over Europe (Second Lead)April 21st, 2010 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS
London/Copenhagen/Hamburg, April 21 (DPA) Skies and many airports in Europe reopened for air traffic Wednesday - almost a week after airspace over large parts of Europe was shut down over ash clouds from a volcano in Iceland.
Three out of four scheduled flights in Europe are expected to take place, the European air safety coordination body Eurocontrol said in Brussels, compared to Tuesday when about half of all flights operated.
Passengers thronged at many airports, and airlines were struggling to overcome logistical hurdles as aircraft and crew have been grounded at other locations over the ash cloud.
More than 40,000 European passengers were repatriated Tuesday on 290 special flights through eight Spanish airports.
The ash cloud cost airlines more than $1.7 billion in lost revenue, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Wednesday.
The calculation by the industry group was made through Tuesday, six days after the eruption began.
Flight restrictions were lifted in Germany and Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said flight bans were lifted late Tuesday after a reassessment of risks.
British Airways said on its website it was planning to operate long-haul flights from Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the volcano under the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier was spewing only a little smoke and ash. The smoke plume was reaching a height of 3 km, compared with 11 km a few days ago.
Activity at the volcano also decreased. This was believed be due to the amount of eruptive material already ejected, which reduced pressure, the agency said.
Winds were also blowing the ash more to the north.
The volcano erupted a week ago, causing major disruptions to European air traffic and intercontinental flights.
Australia’s Qantas Airways said it would take “some weeks” to clear the 15,000 of its ticket-holders delayed by the eruption.
Thai Airways International reopened its regular flights to Zurich, Switzerland while many other routes to Europe remained closed.
In the Nordic region most airspace reopened including in Denmark, and planes could start using Copenhagen Airport, the largest hub in the region.
Sweden’s southern airspace including Stockholm airport, the country’s main hub, was scheduled to reopen Wednesday afternoon.
Flights across Europe had been suspended for fear that the volcanic dust could turn into a glassy substance inside jet engines, damaging them.
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