Day 3: Europe Air Restrictions Further Extended; Cruises Impacted

April 17, 2010
Update, 1 a.m. EDT: Another six-hour extension will push air restrictions in the U.K. through at least 2 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. BST) Sunday. Additional restrictions were put in place Saturday for airports in Spain (including Madrid and Barcelona) and Italy (including Venice and Milan). Rome's airspace is still operational, but just a few flights -- including one bound for Malta, carrying the Pope -- have been able to depart, according to Hurriyet Daily News. For a listing of airports affected, check out this Associated Press article via Google. For a breakdown of how sailings have been affected, click here. The next NATS report is due at 4 a.m. EDT (9 a.m. BST) Sunday. We'll keep you updated.

(10:45 a.m. EDT) -- Air restrictions in the U.K., which have hindered plane travel for the past three days due to the presence of ash from the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland, have been extended for another six hours -- reaching through at least 2 a.m. EDT (7 a.m. BST) Sunday.

The latest report from Britain's air traffic control service, NATS, was posted at 9:45 a.m. EDT (2:45 p.m. BST) and states that some domestic flights may be able to operate in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, north of Leeds, after 2 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. BST) Saturday.

However, because of the constantly changing nature of the situation, NATS says it's unlikely many flights will be able to get off the ground, and travelers with flights scheduled to depart Saturday are advised to check with their airlines prior to arriving at affected airports.

In addition to England and Ireland, other countries that shut down airspace include France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Belgium, according to an Associated Press article on

The situation is reviewed every six hours; the next update will be issued at 4 p.m. EDT (9 p.m. BST).

So what are the options? Eurostar services between London and Paris and Brussels are full; more than 10,000 extra bookings were made yesterday and passengers are being advised only to turn up at the station if they have a confirmed booking. There are some places available on ferries, options which may be taken up by British passengers who choose to drive to their departure port.

Passengers who have booked a fly-cruise and are affected should have heard from their travel agent or cruise line by now about re-booking or joining the cruise at a later stage and if those who booked cruise-only should have been contacted by their airline.

You can find a list of the most up-to-date changes, delays and information from affected lines and sailings here.

We'll update the news from the cruise lines throughout the day and, of course, the latest from NATS as it's announced, so stay tuned.

--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor

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