Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Mixed messages about volcano ash anger Ryanair’s customers

Passengers of budget airline Ryanair expressed anger last night after the airline denied it was cancelling Belfast flights because of engine trouble caused by volcanic ash.

Thwarted travellers at Bristol Airport claimed they were told their 8pm flight to George Best Belfast City last night was delayed because of damaged engines.

But the airline then denied its engines were damaged and said separate technical faults were to blame for the cancellation of its flight from Bristol to the City Airport, and five others from Belfast.

Catherine Lynagh from Belfast said her mother Anne and aunt Gerry were panicking after the cancellation of their Bristol flight.

“Someone at the Ryanair desk told them it was because of the engines being damaged by ash but now the airline is denying that,” she said.

“They wanted to rebook flights on the desk but were told they had to do it on the company’s website — but (the website) is telling people to book in person at ticket desks.

“They are really panicking at this stage because my mum is supposed to be back to work tomorrow.”

The airline cancelled around 300 flights yesterday on the basis of weather forecasts, including some between Derry and Liverpool.

A number of restrictions were put in place at the City of Derry and Dublin airports yesterday as the dense plume, which was lying to the north-west of the UK overnight, edged closer.

And if the northerly winds continue the ash cloud is likely to cause more uncertainty for people hoping to fly from Northern Ireland or western Scotland over the next few days.

The air traffic control company NATS said last night they were monitoring the situation.

A statement read: “The high density area of the volcanic ash cloud is now lying to the north-west of the UK and as a result, there are currently no restrictions within UK airspace apart from those affecting Stornaway, Benbecula and Barra airfields, which lie within the no-fly zone from 1pm to 7pm.

“We continue to maintain close dialogue with the Met Office and with the CAA, which agrees no-fly zones based on Met Office data, and will issue any further notice as necessary.”

Last night a spokesman for George Best Belfast City Airport said it had no immediate plans to ground aircraft but warned things could change quickly.

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