Volcanic cloud hits Spain, Canaries, Morocco

11th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A volcanic ash cloud from Iceland closed down airports in Spain, the Canary Islands and parts of Morocco Tuesday, and was set to spread further to southwestern France, Eurocontrol said.

"At the current time airports on the Canary Islands, some in south-west Spain and some in Morocco are closed," said the intergovernmental agency which coordinates air traffic control across Europe.

"According to the forecasts, during the afternoon, areas of higher ash concentration could move in a north-easterly direction cutting across the Iberian Peninsula and into south-east France," it added in a statement.

However the threatened areas were of high altitude and not expected to affect airports.

The overall number of flights into, out of and within Europe was expected to be around the normal 29,000 on Tuesday, Eurocontrol said.

The eruption of the Eyjafjoell volcano in Iceland, which caused travel chaos worldwide with airspaces closed across Europe for a week last month, had again caused travel delays in recent days with "significant re-routings" of transatlantic flights, it said.

High concentrations of the ash pose a threat to plane engines.

In good news for the aviation industry and travellers, work from the British Meteorological Office and Civil Aviation Authority has allowed more accurate pinpointing of the areas where ash concentration could be above engine tolerance levels.

From Tuesday therefore, Eurocontrol said, the 60-nautical-mile buffer zone which had previously been added to proposed no-fly zones could be omitted.

© 2010 AFP

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