Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 13:39 UK

Aberdeen Airport 'eerie' as volcano ash stops flights

Deserted Aberdeen Airport
Aberdeen Airport was virtually deserted due to cancellations

By Ken Banks
BBC Scotland news website
North East and Northern Isles reporter

"I can see eight passengers. There are more journalists and staff than passengers.

"It's almost eerie."

That was the description from Aberdeen Airport spokeswoman Sarah Campbell, as she surveyed the virtually deserted building in the wake of problems caused by volcanic ash drifting from Iceland across Europe.

All flights in and out of Aberdeen on Thursday - about 100 - have been cancelled, and offshore helicopter flights have also been grounded.

Gordon Murray
As we were heading in the driver mentioned problems due to volcanic ash. We thought it was an April Fool joke
Gordon Murray
Offshore worker

The handful of disappointed passengers who have turned up mostly had not heard or read the news of the widespread disruption on early morning news reports.

Sarah Campbell explained: "Everything has been cancelled.

"We do not have many charters ahead of the summer schedule. It's flights to hubs such as Paris, Amsterdam and Heathrow.

"We managed to get the message out and there are very few people here. Most people have take the advice to get in touch with airlines."

She said of the possible length of problems: "It's so difficult to predict. Some people are saying days."

Gordon Murray, 46, was due to fly to Shetland before going offshore for two weeks.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "We were due to go to Scatsta, then to a rig in the North Sea.

Cancelled flights
All flights in and out of Aberdeen Airport were cancelled

"We had an early morning check-in, as we were heading in the driver mentioned problems due to volcanic ash. We thought it was an April Fool joke.

"But then it came on all the screens. So now there is a lot of hanging about, just waiting for a call from work to say what we are to do."

All three North Sea helicopter operators - Bond, Bristow and CHC - have grounded operations to and from North Sea oil and gas installations, leaving hundreds stranded.

A spokesman for BP said weather disruption was not unusual in the North Sea and was something they were used to dealing with.

The company said it was not posing any problems for operations at the moment but they would continue to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, the airport's spokeswoman concluded: "I now know more about volcanic ash than I will ever need to know."

Sulphur smell

She said the only advantage was there were no queues for breakfast.

Residents of Shetland and Aberdeen say they could smell the ash, describing it as "sulphurous".

Joanne Jamieson, from Shetland, told BBC Scotland: "It was a strong sulphurous smell and everyone was talking about it at school this morning when I was dropping off my children.

"There's no evidence of any physical fallout of ash or dust of any kind, as far as I can tell it is just the smell at the moment."

The eruption under a glacier in the Eyjafjallajoekull area of Iceland is the second in Iceland in less than a month.

Forecasters say the ash could take a number of days to disperse.

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