Britain on lookout after ash disrupts N.Ireland airspace

16th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

British aviation authorities were keeping a close eye Sunday on the possible return of a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland after it forced the closure of parts of Northern Ireland's airspace.

The restrictions, from 1:00 am to 7:00 am (0000 GMT to 0600 GMT), will not affect Belfast International and airports in Dublin in the Irish Republic, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which manages British airspace, said.

Airspace in other parts of Britain remained open, it added in a statement on its website.

Britain's Department of Transport warned Saturday that British airspace was likely to face partial closures from Sunday until Tuesday due to the volcanic ash which has already disrupted European air traffic for weeks.

The government said that airports in London, including Europe's busiest air hub, Heathrow, could be affected.

But the NATS statement announcing the partial closure of Northern Irish airspace said "there are currently no other restrictions within UK airspace".

It added: "A high density volcanic ash cloud is rapidly encroaching on Northern Ireland.

"As a result, a no-fly zone has been imposed by the CAA in airspace over parts of Northern Ireland, however Belfast International and Dublin airports will remain open."

The NATS said it was working closely with weather forecasters and the Civil Aviation Authority -- Britain's aviation regulator -- and would issue any further updates as necessary.

Europe's skies were closed for up to a week last month following the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano, in the biggest shutdown of the continent's airspace since World War II.

The volcanic ash, which can cause serious damage to jet engines, has continued to cause disruption on a smaller scale in certain parts of Europe.

© 2010 AFP

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