Drifting volcanic ash prompts flight ban in and out of Irish airports Tuesday

Monday, May 3, 2010

Volcanic ash prompts Ireland to close its airports

DUBLIN, Ireland — Ireland’s Aviation Authority said Monday it was banning all flights in and out of Ireland on Tuesday morning because of a renewed risk of volcanic ash drifting south from Iceland.

All flights to and from Irish airports will be prohibited from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time Tuesday (0600GMT to 1200GMT; 2 a.m to 8 a.m EDT), the authority said in a statement. The restrictions will not affect planes flying over Ireland from Britain and Europe.

“The decision is based on the safety risks to crews and passengers as a result of the drift south of the volcanic ash cloud caused by the northeasterly winds,” the statement said.

Ireland is expected to experience ash concentrations that exceed acceptable engine manufacturer tolerance levels, the authority said.

The budget airline Ryanair said it had canceled all of its flights scheduled to operate to and from Ireland — including Belfast and Londonderry, both in Northern Ireland — between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time had been canceled.

The airline warned of further disruptions, as well, including in Scotland.

Iceland’s Meteorological Office said the restrictions were caused by a change in wind direction in the past few days, not an increased amount of ash spewing from southern Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano.

The eruption continued to be stable, the forecaster said.

The volcano unleashed a massive ash plume last month that turned much of European into a no-fly zone for days. More than 100,000 flights were canceled and airlines say they may lose more than $2 billion.

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