KLM suspends 16 flights over ash cloud concerns

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Dutch airline KLM has cancelled at least 16 flights to and from northern Britain and Scotland due to the shifting plume of ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland, the company said late Monday.

"I can confirm that six flights have been suspended until 11:00 am (0900 GMT) tomorrow (Tuesday) Amsterdam time," spokeswoman Ellen van Ginkel told AFP.

"The flights were to Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh in Scotland and Newcastle in northern England," she added.

The carrier's website later listed at least 16 cancelled flights due to be flown to and from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and the affected cities.

"Affected customers will be re-booked and notified by KLM," the website said.

The Netherlands' national carrier took the decision to put flights on hold on advice from the London-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) and "our own findings," Van Ginkel said.

Based in nine locations around the world, the VAAC monitors the movement of volcanic ash clouds.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and will make adjustments accordingly," Van Ginkel said, without saying how many passengers were affected of if more flights were likely to be suspended.

Two days into its most powerful eruption in over a century, monitors said ash particles from the Grimsvoetn volcano had been scattered across much of Iceland, forcing the country to close its airspace Sunday.

During last year's eruption of the neighbouring Eyjafjoell volcano, more than 100,000 flights were cancelled and eight million passengers stranded, dealing a harsh blow to the airline industry, particularly in Europe.

The threat of a repeat sent airline shares across the continent tumbling Monday, with German Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, British Airways and Scandinavian airline SAS all seeing falls of around three to four percent.

© 2011 AFP

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