(10:45 p.m. EDT) -- Travellers faced chaos Thursday as virtually all flights to and from U.K. airports were cancelled because of the danger presented by a large plume of volcanic ash in the sky. The ash is headed south and east from an eruption under a glacier in the Eyjafjallajoekull area of Iceland.
If the ash cloud continues its movement without dissipating, as predicted by meteorologists, those traveling beyond the U.K. could be impacted. Those booked on Mediterranean cruises departing this weekend from ports such as Civitavecchia, for Rome, and Barcelona could face challenges.
According to Britain's Air Traffic Control Service (NATS), flight restrictions in the U.K. remain in place until at least 7 p.m. BST (2 p.m. EDT) on Friday (though some air travel in Northern Ireland and Scotland's western islands may be allowed earlier in the day).
As a result of the volcano eruption in Iceland, most if not all flights to and from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and London City were cancelled Thursday and into Friday. Scottish airports were shut and most regional airports in the U.K. cancelled or suspended flights, although some have still been operating from southern airports like Bournemouth.
Travellers have been advised -- and are still advised -- not to turn up at the airport without checking their flights first. Airlines, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and Ryanair, are offering refunds or the option to rebook.
The latest info from the cruise lines.
The precautions have been taken because it is dangerous for aircraft to fly through volcanic ash; there have been cases in the past of engines stalling when they become jammed with particles of rock, sand and glass present in the ash.
The ash cloud, which has reached 55,000 feet, is expected to move through northern Britain later today and cross Europe tonight. Weather forecasters say it should lose intensity as it disperses but the volcano is still erupting so the situation over the next few days remains uncertain.
Again, as it moves eastward into Europe through the weekend, it's possible that cruise ships departing from ports such as Barcelona and Rome's Civitavecchia will be affected.
We'll keep you posted.
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Latest Info On Volcano's Impact On Cruises
April 15, 2010