Half of transatlantic flights to be cancelled Friday

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Half of all transatlantic flights are expected to be cancelled on Friday due to a cloud of ash spewing from an Icelandic volcano, the intergovernmental Eurocontrol agency said Thursday.

BRUSSELS - "Regarding transatlantic traffic, we are aware that 50 flights scheduled to take place tomorrow (Friday) morning have already been cancelled, and we anticipate that 50 percent of all flights from North America to Europe will be impacted tomorrow," Eurocontrol said in a statement.

"On average, there are 600 flights a day between Europe and North America," it added.

In an update on the situation across Europe, the agency said that the airspace of Britain, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the north of France, parts of northern Germany and also part of northern Poland were closed to civilian aircraft.

Eurocontrol, which coordinates air navigation services across Europe, said that overall 5,000 to 6,000 flights were likely to be cancelled on Thursday because of the cloud of ash.

Volcanoes are a much-feared peril in civil aviation, disgorging fine ash that can damage jet engines, choke the hi-tech probes used in modern avionics and scour a plane's windscreen to the point of invisibility.

With the volcano in Iceland still spewing ash, Eurocontrol said that forecasts suggested the cloud would keep moving east and southeast affecting on Friday "Germany and Poland as well as the areas currently affected."


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