Page last updated at 20:11 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 21:11 UK

Ferry arrives to beat volcano chaos as flights resume

Passengers arrive
Passengers said they were delighted to be back in Scotland

More than 150 people who were stranded in Norway due to the volcano travel restrictions have returned to Scotland by ferry.

The Northlink ferry Hamnavoe, which normally runs across the Pentland Firth, was sent from Orkney to Bergen to pick up the passengers.

One of the 157 people said: "We just want to get home and see our kids."

Meanwhile, Northern Isles flights have resumed, however there are still no flights to and from Stornoway on Lewis.

All Scotland's major airports are open and flights are getting back to normal after the disruption which lasted for almost a week.

Finance Secretary John Swinney gives the latest information on the volcanic ash cloud

One of the relieved ferry passengers said after disembarking: "It was an excellent service."

Another commented: "It was better than being stuck in Norway for another week."

A group of primary school pupils and teachers stranded abroad by the flight restrictions also arrived back in Aberdeen, this time by coach.

The 11-year-olds from Kirkhill School were on a cultural exchange in Valencia, Spain, and were due back on Saturday.

However their flight was cancelled and they ended up having to fly to Paris before being travelling by coach back to Aberdeen on Thursday afternoon.

UK airports reopened on Tuesday night after safety tests showed plane engines could cope in areas of low density ash.

Passengers are being advised that they still need to check with their airline for the latest information.

Hamnavoe arrives in Aberdeen
Hamnavoe arrived in Aberdeen early on Thursday afternoon

Loganair said planes in and out of the Northern Isles resumed after 1300 BST.

However, Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair's commercial director, said all flights to and from Stornoway on Lewis were cancelled until 1300 BST on Friday.

Bond Offshore Helicopters resumed operating offshore flights from Aberdeen on Thursday afternoon.

Aberdeen Airport spokeswoman Sarah Campbell said: "The advice to passengers is to stay in touch with your airlines directly for information on flights or for re-booking. We are grateful to passengers for their patience."

Tens of thousands of people remain stranded after the six-day shut down of UK airspace.

Spare capacity on the Rosyth-Zeebrugge service has been used by passengers stranded on mainland Europe by cancelled flights.

The Scottish government helpline number is 0800 027 0504 or from overseas +44 800 027 0504. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office 24-hour consular helpline has been set up on 020 7008 0000 for people stuck abroad.

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