Air traffic returns to normal – almost

Air traffic returns to normal – almost

European air traffic has returned to normal with almost all restrictions lifted since the Icelandic ash cloud eruption which closed airports across the UK. However, just as airlines and passengers were looking forward to clear skies, Scottish airports were shut after a new ash cloud scare.

Inverness, Wick, Kirkwall and Stornoway airports were closed on Friday until the early afternoon because of the problems of high density ash cloud overhead. Highlands and Islands Airports said its other airports would be open for business as normal. Flights to and from Orkney have also been cancelled or delayed.

The news is a reminder that all passengers should check flights before travelling to the airport.

Eurocontrol, the European air traffic agency, said it expected 29,000 flights would take place on Friday, compared with 27,284 on Thursday. Despite flights resuming, the practice of prioritising pre-booked passengers means that some stranded travellers could still be waiting for another two weeks before returning home to the UK.

On Friday afternoon 2,200 stranded passengers were due to arrive back in the UK from Bilbao in Spain aboard The Celebrity Eclipse, a new luxury liner that put its inaugural celebrations on hold to help those stuck by the ash cloud crisis.

UK carrier bmi, the second biggest airline operating out of London’s Heathrow, yesterday announced it was the first UK airline to have a full international schedule back up and running. They are also offering discount domestic flights booked before Monday 26 April. For further details see

Gallery: Stranded – passengers affected by the ash cloud around the world

Gallery: Dramatic images from inside the ash cloud

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