Iceland volcano ash closes main Dutch airports: authorities

17th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Ash clouds from an erupting Iceland volcano forced the closure of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and those in Rotterdam and Groningen until 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) Monday, Dutch officials said.

Two other airports, at Eindhoven and Maastricht, were open.

"Until 2:00 pm local time there will be no air traffic from and to Amsterdam and Rotterdam", whose airports have been closed since 6:00 am (0400 GMT), as well as Groningen, which closed at 8:00 am (0600 GMT), air traffic control spokeswoman Marjolein Wenting told AFP.

The decision was based on information from the Dutch meteorological service, she said earlier.

The ash clouds are over "the western part of the country and are moving slowly east", she added.

All 500 flights scheduled at Schiphol, the Netherlands' main air hub, were cancelled until 2:00 pm (1200 GMT), airport spokeswoman Antoinette Spaans told AFP, leading to disruptions for 60,000 passengers.

Travellers at the airport were asked to return home.

Airports in Britain and Ireland had also been forced to close down because of the risks from the clouds of ash, caused by a surge in activity from Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano.

London's main airports Heathrow and Gatwick reopened Monday, but airports in Northern Ireland and others around Britain remained shut.

Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, reopened at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) as did Gatwick, Britain's second-busiest air hub.

However restrictions remained on their flights because of their proximity to a dense section of the shifting ash cloud.

Airports inside the no-fly zone were shut until 1200 GMT with all airports in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man to remain closed until then.

Scotland's busiest airport, Edinburgh, plus Aberdeen and Inverness were closed while Wales's main airport Cardiff was shut, as was Swansea.

In England, Bristol in the southwest and Farnborough, southwest of London, were also closed until 1200 GMT.

Much of European airspace was shut for up to a week in April following Eyjafjoell's eruption.

It was the biggest shutdown of the continent's airspace for more than 50 years.

© 2010 AFP

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