Day 4: Global Air Restrictions Extended; Cruises Affected

April 18, 2010
Update, 11 p.m. EDT: Sky News reports that airports in Spain and Southern France have reopened. NATS has issued another update, but for the first time in days, air restrictions have not been extended. They are currently scheduled to last until 2 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. BST) Monday. The next NATS report is scheduled for 4 a.m. EDT (9 a.m. BST) Monday. Stay tuned.

(8:45 a.m. EDT) -- After three days of chaos in the air travel world, thanks to the presence of ash from the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland, airspace restrictions have again been extended -- this time until 8 p.m. EDT Sunday (1 a.m. BST Monday).

The latest report from Britain's air traffic control service, NATS, was posted at 5 a.m. EDT (10 a.m. BST) and advises travelers to check with their airlines before arriving at affected airports. The notice also says that some flights may be able to get off the ground in Scotland (Shetland and Orkney) by 2 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. BST) Sunday if conditions cooperate.

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.

In addition to England and Ireland, other countries that shut down airspace include France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Belgium. For a more comprehensive list of airports affected, check out this Associated Press article via Google.

So what are the options? Eurostar services between London and Paris and Brussels are full, 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 ports.

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.

The next NATS report is due at 10 a.m. EDT (3 p.m. BST) Sunday. We'll keep you updated.

--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor

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