Volcano mayday nearly over for European airports

Nearly all European airspace was open for business with a normal quota of flights expected for the first time in a week, air traffic control coordinator Eurocontrol announced.

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“At the current time, almost all European airspace is available, with a few exceptions in parts of southern Finland, southern Norway, northern Scotland, and western Sweden,” Eurocontrol said in a statement.

A small number of cancellations can be expected due to some continuing limited restrictions and “the logistical problems of airlines resuming their regular schedules,” it added.

Normal service in the skies above Europe has been gradually resumed since Tuesday following a five-day airspace lockdown after Iceland’s Eyjafjjoell volcano erupted and started spewing ash across the continent.

Major financial losses

The ash, according to experts, created a hazard for jet engines, though airlines which have suffered major losses have accused authorities of a knee-jerk reaction in imposing an almost blanket flight ban.

On Wednesday there were 22,189 flights in European airspace, almost 80 percent of normal traffic levels, according to Europcontrol figures, allowing hundreds of thousands of stranded travellers to make their way home at last.

“Today Eurocontrol expects that traffic will be at normal levels of between 28,000 and 29,000 flights,” said the Brussels-based intergovernmental body which coordinates air traffic control across the continent.

Officials have warned that it may take days before everything returns to normal, with more passengers still stranded and planes in the wrong place.

The Eyjafjjoell volcano kept erupting on Thursday morning, but was largely stable from the day before, Icelandic authorities said.

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