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Developments in volcanic ash affecting air travel

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: Most of British airspace reopens
  • Weather conditions aren't set to change over Europe until Friday
  • UK citizens stranded in Europe advised to go to any northern European port
  • India announces visa extension for stranded Europe-bound foreign travelers

(CNN) -- Weather conditions aren't set to change over Europe until Friday, meaning the volcanic ash may linger over the continent until then, a spokeswoman from Britain's weather service, the Met Office, said Tuesday.

Starting Friday, southwesterly winds will start taking the ash away from the United Kingdom, the spokeswoman said.

About 14,000 flights were expected to operate in European airspace Tuesday, half of scheduled air traffic, according to Eurocontrol, the intergovernmental body that manages European air travel. By the end of Tuesday, more than 95,000 flights will have been canceled since the ash shut down airspace on Thursday, Eurocontrol said.

All European airspace is available above 20,000 feet, Eurocontrol said. Lower air space is closed or severely restricted across Europe, it said.

FedEx announced its FedEx Express service would resume intercontinental flights via Europe, though not on a full schedule. It warned there may still be delays on inbound and outbound shipments from affected areas. Items will be prioritized on a "first in, first out" basis.

Some flights resume as new ash cloud forms

Latest travel picture by country:

• Qantas Airways said Wednesday that it will not allow its outbound flights to London to depart until the airline is certain its planes can land at British airports.

• Austrian airspace is open, though the Austrian aviation agency Austro Control said it will continue to monitor the situation and has not ruled out another closure.

• The Brussels, Belgium, airport has confirmed that arrivals will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday (2 a.m. ET). Departures will begin at 2 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) if the air quality remains clear, officials said.

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Virgin Atlantic announced plans to resume operating its normal flight schedule Wednesday into and out of London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

• Britain's air traffic control agency said late Tuesday that all air traffic restrictions have been lifted over British airspace "with the exception of an area over the northwest of Scotland which continues to be affected by a dense concentration of volcanic ash."

• A British Airways flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, was the first flight to land at London's Heathrow Airport on Tuesday night.

• Budget airline Ryanair expects to resume southbound flights from Marseilles, France, on Wednesday, the airline announced Tuesday. But it will not fly from northern Europe before 1 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) on Thursday, it said.

It will try to clear the backlog of passengers trying to get between the United Kingdom and continental Europe by using planes scheduled to fly between Ireland and the United Kingdom. As a result, it doesn't expect to fly Ireland-U.K. routes before Friday.

• Part of Scottish and Northern Irish airspace including Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh airports will continue to be available from 7 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET) Tuesday until 1 a.m. Wednesday (9 p.m. Tuesday ET), and also south to Newcastle Airport in England, the national air traffic controller NATS said. Scotland's Glasgow and Teesside airport in northern England will also have some flights during that period.

• Restrictions will remain in place over the rest of U.K. airspace below 20,000 ft.

• Flights above the ash cloud are now permitted in the U.K., NATS said.

• The UK government advised its citizens stranded within Europe to make their way to Calais, France, or any northern European port. It said it was working with Spanish authorities to establish an "air hub" in Madrid, where passengers arriving on flights from outside Europe could be transferred to northern French ports by train or bus.

Government advice for UK nationals abroad

• Flights into and out of St. John's, Gander and Deer Lake, Newfoundland, are not being affected by volcanic activity, AirCanada said, but winds are pushing ash into the region.

• Air China said it will resume flying from Beijing to Moscow, Russia; Rome, Italy; and Stockholm, Sweden. Flights to London, England; Paris, France; and Frankfurt, Germany, are still suspended, it said.

• Danish airports are closed to takeoffs and landings, but airspace higher than about 20,000 feet is open for transit flights: those passing over Denmark, the country's air traffic control service NAVIAIR said.

• Finavia, Finland's aviation authority, confirmed that all Finnish airports will stay closed until 9 a.m. local time Wednesday.

Iceland volcano leaves travelers in limbo

• U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has canceled a trip to Helsinki, Finland, because of continued aviation difficulties involving the ash cloud, a State Department official said Monday.

• The two main airports in Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, aim to fly about 75 percent of their scheduled flights Tuesday, French Minister for Ecology Jean-Louis Borloo told French radio network RTL.

• The French national rail company SNCF is adding 80,000 places on the Eurostar high-speed trains running from Paris to London this week. Tickets will cost a special fare of 96 euros (about $130) round trip, less than half the normal last-minute price.

• Lufthansa said it hopes to operate as many as 330 flights, including some long-haul flights, Tuesday. Of about 100 flights on the departure board at Frankfurt Airport, there were a handful still scheduled to depart.

• Take-offs and landings were being permitted in Germany under visual flight rules during the day and night, weather permitting, the German air traffic authority DFS said.

• Some U.S. troops critically wounded in Afghanistan are being taken to Iraq for medical care because they cannot be transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where the airspace is shut down, according to Master Sgt. Stefan Alford, spokesman for the 332 Air Expeditionary Wing in Iraq. The U.S. military hospital in Balad, Iraq, has been designated the new hub for all aeromedical evacuations because of the disruptions in air traffic caused by the volcano. Wounded troops taken from Afghanistan to Iraq will be treated and then moved on to the United States.

• Eruptions of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano have been weaker over the past three days than over the three days before that, said Magnus Gudmundsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland. "That's usually a good sign that the worst is over," he said but emphasized that there are no guarantees with volcanoes.

• Indian authorities on Tuesday announced a two-week visa extension for Europe-bound foreign travelers stranded in the country because of the volcano. About 9,000 passengers booked by state-run Air India and private carrier Jet Airways have been left stranded, according to Indian civil aviation authorities.

• Air India has resumed flights to Chicago, Illinois; New York's JFK airport; and Newark, New Jersey, from Mumbai and New Delhi, the civil aviation ministry said. The airline has two planes stranded at London's Heathrow and one at Frankfurt, it added.

• India's Jet Airways has restarted its U.S. and Canada flights via Athens, Greece. The airline hopes Europe-bound passengers can travel onwards from Athens to other destinations on the continent.

• Italy has reopened its airspace nationwide, the Italian aviation authority ENAC announced.

• Japan Airlines said it planned to run a round-trip flight between Tokyo and Rome. It added an extra flight from Tokyo to Rome to help stranded passengers get home. Since Thursday, JAL has canceled 55 flights, which has affected 14,000 passengers, the airline said.

• Dutch-based carrier KLM said it would gradually begin operating European flights into and out of Amsterdam on Tuesday. All intercontinental flights due to arrive in Amsterdam were expected as scheduled, along with all departing intercontinental flights, with the exception of those going to Mexico City, Mexico; Manila, Philippines; Lima, Peru; Osaka, Japan; Montreal, Quebec; and Entebbe, Uganda.

• The airspace near Bergen briefly reopened Tuesday, and the forecast indicated that Gardermoen, just north of Oslo, will be open all day, Norwegian air traffic control service AVINOR said. The rest of Norway's airspace is closed, it said.

• Malaysia Airlines said it plans to resume flights to London, Paris, and Amsterdam starting Wednesday. From Thursday through the end of the day Tuesday, the airline said, it will have canceled 46 flights involving 14,000 passengers.

• All airspace in Poland is closed.

• Twelve Russian airports were suffering flight delays and cancellations Tuesday because of the flight disruptions in Europe, the Russian Transport Ministry said. Moscow's international Sheremetyevo Airport has been affected far more than others, with 308 canceled flights and 127 delayed, the ministry said.

• Countrywide, 531 flights were cancelled and 177 were delayed, it said.

• Airlines said it plans to start resuming flights from Singapore to Paris and Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, with services to Rome, Amsterdam and Zurich, Switzerland, starting Wednesday. It says all other flights not listed above remain cancelled at this point.

• Ryanair said it will operate additional flights Wednesday and Thursday between the Canary Islands, a Spanish island chain off Morocco, and Madrid to allow passengers to get to mainland Europe. Passengers can transfer their scheduled return flight to the Madrid flight free of charge, but onward travel from Madrid will be at the passengers' expense, Ryanair said.

• Celebrity Cruises is canceling the first leg of launch celebrations for one of its new ships so the ship can collect stranded passengers instead, the cruise line announced. The Celebrity Eclipse will pick up more than 2,000 passengers from Bilbao, Spain, on Thursday and return to Southampton, England, late Friday, the cruise line said. Celebrity is working with British tour operators to identify which passengers need help.

• The British Royal Navy warship HMS Albion on Tuesday picked up more than 450 British service personnel returning from Afghanistan as well as 280 British civilians, all of whom were stranded by the ash cloud, the British Ministry of Defence said. The Albion is due to arrive at Portsmouth, England, late Wednesday, the ministry said.

• The airspace north and west of the flight corridor from Stockholm to Gothenburg is now open.

• Thai Airways, based in Bangkok, estimates that the cloud is costing the airline $3 million a day and has stranded 6,000 of its passengers.

United Arab Emirates
• Emirates airline says the disruption has cost it $50 million. The UAE will not impose penalties on anyone who overstays a visa as a result of the travel disruption, the Interior Ministry said.

Other countries
• There are restrictions on civil flights across most of northern and central Europe. This swath includes Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

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