Passengers wait in the terminal to be flown to their destinations after their flights were canceled Tuesday at Edinburgh Airport, Scotland. Image Credit: AP

Emirates to resume normal operations on Thursday

Emirates will resume normal operations to Hamburg on Thursday after canceling its flights to the German city on Wednesday. “We only operate one flight per day to Hamburg which was cancelled this morning. It will be normal operations tomorrow,” an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News in an e-mailed statement.

The closure of the airspace over Northern Germany owing to the volcanic ash from the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland forced the Dubai carrier to cancel its flight EK059 and EK060 (Dubai – Hamburg – Dubai) for Wednesday.

Eruption in final stages: Iceland Met office

Iceland’s volcanic eruption has subsided to a great extent and is no longer spewing out ash, according to Iceland Met office officials, as reported by Reuters. The report states that airlines are beginning to get back to normal after cancelling about 1,000 flights in northern Europe. It added that Dutch airline KLM resumed flights to affected destinations after a brief break.

Ash cloud could return to UK on Friday: Met Office

While there is no impact of the volcanic ash on the UK airspace at the moment, the Met Office has warned that a dense layer of ash cloud is likely to return to the UK and be at its worst over Britain on Friday, according to a report in Daily Mail. It added that Met Office projections show that it could disappear entirely from UK skies by Saturday, and clear further away on Sunday. The report also said that UK skies are expected to remain clear of volcanic ash until at least 7pm on Wednesday.

German airports reopen

Airports in northern Germany have started to reopen as ash cloud dissipates. The airport in Bremen resumed flights at 11am local time, with Hamburg and Berlin expected to begin flying passengers again within the next couple of hours, the German air traffic control agency said, according to reports.

Authorities had closed airspace over the airports for several hours, causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.

Bremen, Hamburg to reopen today, Wednesday

Germany's DFS said Wednesday that it was allowing takeoffs or landings to resume at Bremen airport, and scheduled Hamburg airport to reopen at noon (1000GMT).

Authorities had closed airspace over the airports for several hours, causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.

No flight traffic was allowed at either of Berlin's airports as the cloud of ash from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano blew across northern Europe.

European air traffic controllers say that activity from the volcano had declined sharply and that traffic in European airspace could return to normal Thursday.

Volcano has stopped erupting

However the volcano which caused the disruption has stopped erupting, a UK weather official said on Wednesday. British authorities said high-level densities of ash had cleared their airspace on Wednesday and there were only scattered cancellations, mostly related to Germany-bound flights.

The Grimsvotn volcano, which began erupting Saturday, is only blowing out steam and concerns over the ash cloud on aviation are easing rapidly, the official said.

Volcanic ash over Germany could ground 700 flights Wednesday

Airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa may cancel more than 700 flights today as volcanic ash cloud drifts across the North Sea to Germany, according to a Bloomberg report.

Eurocontrol, the agency which oversees European air traffic, said Wednesday that about 700 services out of the 29,000 scheduled were cancelled.

Eurocontrol said: “The cloud is expected to move during the day and will affect Berlin and could also impact parts of Poland. There are no restrictions in any other part of Europe. It is expected that ash cloud coverage will dissipate during the day”.

BA’s test flight into ash cloud found nothing

British Airways said it sent a test plane into the volcanic ash Wednesday and found no evidence of dust. The UK flagship carrier said that BA flight (an Airbus A320) departed from Manchester airport yesterday evening and flew toward the Newcastle area and then over Glasgow and Edinburgh before heading south and arriving at London Heathrow. The plane flew through the so-called red zone in a flight lasting 45 minutes.

“We conducted a verification flight to help determine procedures to continue flying in accordance with risk assessment methodology developed by ICAO, the global aviation governing body, over the last 12 months,” BA told Gulf News in an e-mailed statement.

It added: “We regret the cancellation of yesterday’s services between London and Scotland, and London and Newcastle. These cancellations were made entirely on the basis of the information given to us by the CAA and the Met Office”.

The UK airspace, meanwhile, is open Wednesday as dust from the eruption in Iceland is drifting east toward northern Germany.

Airspace could be normal by Thursday

Eurocontrol, the agency which oversees European air traffic, said Wednesday that the ash clouds appear to be dissipating fast and that airspace could be back to normal by Thursday.

Brian Flynn, head of network operations for Eurocontrol was quoted by AP as saying Eurocontrol expected about 700 flights to be cancelled Wednesday mostly due to volcanic ash clouds over northern Germany.

Some 29,500 flights were expected over Europe today including around 4,000 over Germany, according to Eurocontrol.

Berlin airports closed

German air traffic control said Wednesday they would halt all flights to and from Berlin's Tegel and Schoenefeld airports, starting at 11am (0900GMT). Airports in Bremen, Hamburg and Luebeck have already been closed for hours.

Copenhagen cancellations

Copenhagen’s airport, the Nordic region’s biggest hub, would see a “few” cancellations Wednesday to northern Germany, according to a report in Business Week, quoting Soeren H Nielsen, a spokesman for the airport. The report stated that all Danish airspace is open again after the country’s air navigation authority the past two days had shut down a small part of Denmark’s northwestern section. 

Deutsche Lufthansa cancels 150 flights

Deutsche Lufthansa has cancelled 150 flights to cities in northern Germany.

A Lufthansa spokesperson told Gulf News: “Out of approximately 1,851 Lufthansa flights a day globally, approximately 150 flights will have to be cancelled today (Wednesday)”.

The carrier said: “Due to air space closures in parts of Northern Germany announced for today by the responsible authorities, Lufthansa has cancelled flights into and out of Hamburg and Bremen until 1600 LT,” and that flights into and out of Berlin have to be cancelled from 1100 to 1900 LT.

Lufthansa said it was asking all its passengers, who are booked May 25 on a flight into or out of Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin to check the status of their flight on www.lufthansa.com

Single cancellations may occur on flights into or out of Hannover, UK and Scandinavia. Passengers travelling within Germany can alternatively travel by rail with Deutsche Bahn, if their flights have to be cancelled, the carrier said.

Berlin Airport  

Berlin’s airport will close at 11am (1pm UAE time and 09:00 GMT) Wednesday, the DFS flight security office said in a statement to Bloomberg. DFS said airports in Bremen and Hamburg also remain closed.

Emirates airline cancels Hamburg operations

And the Emirates airline cancelled its Hamburg operations on Wednesday morning following the spread of volcanic ash across northern Germany, the company said in a statement. (See related story).

500 European flights

The Grimsvotn volcano forced the cancellation of some 500 European flights on Tuesday, with Scotland especially hard hit.

Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based agency responsible for some of the world's busiest air corridors, said the ash cloud may affect parts of Denmark, southern Norway and southwest Sweden on Wednesday.

In northern Germany, Hamburg and Bremen airports cancelled takeoffs and landings, and German authorities said Berlin terminals could also face closure from 1000 GMT.

"Currently there is no forecast when the restriction will be lifted," Hamburg airport said on its website. German airline Lufthansa advised passengers that tickets for cancelled flights within Germany could be exchanged for rail vouchers

Around 252 flights were cancelled Tuesday as the ash cloud from Icelandic volcano, Grimsvoetn, drifted towards the United Kingdom, Scotland and Ireland, according to Eurocontrol, the Belgium-based agency coordinating air traffic management across Europe.

While most airports remained open Tuesday, most airlines halted flights amid safety concerns. British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM and Cathay Pacific cancelled or diverted their UK and Scotland flights.

Europe's air traffic control organisation said that if the volcanic emissions continued at the same rate, the cloud could reach western French and northern Spanish airspace Thursday. And meteorologists expected it to reach the German coast.

As their shares plummeted for the second day, airlines lambasted regulators in the UK and Ireland as passengers experienced delays and cancellations.

Last year's Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland grounded 100,000 flights in the first six days and caused airlines to lose $1.8 billion in revenues, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates.

Gulf carriers — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways — collectively lost about $130 million.

Raising concerns about a repeat of last year's chaos leading to the biggest shutdown of European airspace since the Second World War, Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director-General and CEO said that states should not implement blanket closures of airspace.

"European transport ministers should formally agree their determination to avoid a repeat of the 2010 chaos by embracing a common process based on airline safety risk assessments for determining whether and when it is safe to fly," he said.

Saj Ahmad, UK-based aerospace and aviation analyst with FBE Aerospace, told Gulf News: "Closing the skies need only be a last resort. The flight tests done last year show that flight safety was not compromised and that airplanes can operate safely under a variety of climatic conditions."

Emirates diverts flight

Emirates was the only Gulf carrier forced to divert its Glasgow-bound flight EK027 from Dubai to Manchester Airport due to the ash cloud. "All other flights to the UK and Europe continue to operate as per schedule," Emirates said in a statement. Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways continued to operate normally. "None of our flights are affected, but we are monitoring developments closely," a Qatar Airways spokesperson told Gulf News. An Etihad Airways spokesperson said flights to and from the UK and Europe were operating "as normal".

- With inputs from agencies