Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Northern Ireland airspace to close amid ash concerns

A fresh warning has been issued that Scottish airspace could face further disruption
Melting ice spewing from the crater of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland
The crater of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, which erupted for the second time in less than a month (AP)

Airline passengers in Northern Ireland are grounded again this morning after another no-fly zone was reimposed by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority from 7am.

The renewed disruption came after more than 10,000 passengers were grounded in Northern Ireland’s airports until 1pm yesterday.

Many thousands more will face the same painstaking wait following the authority’s decision to reimpose a ban on flying in airspace over Northern Ireland and Scotland.

There were no indications of how long the ban would remain in place.

A spokesman for the CAA said: “Met Office forecasts show that levels of ash in the atmosphere over Scotland and Northern Ireland will exceed the concentrations that engine manufacturers have agreed are safe for operations.”

The recurrence of April’s disruption has led to fears of a summer of discontent and disruption caused by the ash cloud from Eyjafjallajkull.

Yesterday around 6,000 thwarted flyers were stuck in Belfast International Airport while 4,000 were grounded in George Best Belfast City. Flying resumed in the afternoon but with a large backlog to tackle from the morning’s disruption, airports continued to urge passengers to check with their airlines to ensure flights were leaving on time.

Last night Philip Hughes, director of technology and training at the Irish Aviation Authority, said he did not think the volcano had finished its work. But he said a refinement of examinations at the UK’s volcanic ash centre enabled it to plan 24 hours ahead.

Consumer groups have warned airlines did not have the staff in place to cope with the hundreds of thousands of compensation claims being lodged and that fares would increase.

The Consumers' Association of Ireland warned that settling the estimated 300,000 claims would be “anything but speedy” and stranded passengers should expect their claims to be forensically examined by airlines.

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