Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 14:07 UK

Volcano cloud as it happens: 19 April

Spanish passenger sits on his baggage at Bilbao airport in northern Spain on 18/04/2010
Millions of passengers are stranded across Europe because of the ash cloud

Welcome to our live coverage of the volcanic ash cloud over northern Europe. This live page will update through the day. Please refresh for the latest news, analysis and advice from experts and BBC correspondents. All times are in BST.


1406 Maurik tweets:

Airlines are the ones complaining due to losses, but passengers generally accept the wait due to safety concerns Read Maurik's tweets

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1403 Zong says:

I will not fly until we are 100% safe. Yes, airlines were losing money, people were stranded abroad. But what else is more important than human lives?

1357 The UK government confirms that there will be another emergency Cobra committee meeting this afternoon, but the timings are yet to be confirmed.

1352 The head of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, says its operations are "not affected" by the ash cloud.

1348 Scandinavian airline SAS says it has lost up to 29m euros (£25m; $39m) since its planes were grounded on Thursday.

1346 Mike Gore paid 2,200 euros (£1,935; $2,950) to get a taxi from the French Alps to Birmingham in the UK. He writes:

There were eight of us - five adults and three young children. It was a tough decision to part with the extra cash, which cannot be recovered from insurance - but with deteriorating prospect of a flight home and the cost of prohibitive cost of hotels and food in France, we were just relieved to get home.

1338 The vice president of Lufthansa Europe, Karsten Benz, says the airline carried out test flights on Saturday up to 26,000 feet.

"We can't report any effects on engines or on engine performance, even fuselage and cockpit windows are left without any damage.

"We think the correlation between the mathematical models which are used today and the situation in the air is no longer given."

1333 Pamela Phillips, from Chichester in the UK, writes:

My two boys are stuck in Orlando and the eldest has to sit GCSEs soon. I am worried about him not getting back. Will the government talk to the exam boards and delay exams or make other arrangements?

I am completely beside myself. I fee very frustrated because I want to do something but can't. I can't afford to pay to fly them back to Madrid at £1,000 a head.

1327 The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the First Battalion The Royal Anglians are still stuck in Afghanistan due to the ash cloud.

They say just over 300 troops are currently in Cyprus - but that number doesn't include the Anglians who were due to arrive home to the UK from there tomorrow.

Sarah Rainsford

1321 The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Madrid says:

The Spanish government has been discussing the possibility of flying passengers from around the world into Spain, especially those stranded in America, Latin America and Asia. Some 70,000 Britons are concerned, as well as other northern European passengers.

The Spanish rail operator has reported a 15% increase in demand for rail services, and is laying on extra services from Madrid and Barcelona to Paris.

The logistical challenge for Spain of becoming a central transport hub is massive and there are no details of how this will work yet.

1253 Spain has offered to let Britain and other European countries use its airports as stopovers for passengers trying to get home. Spain is one of the few countries with all airports open.

Jose Blanco, Spain's transport minister, said Spain would offer landing slots to planes diverted from other airports now shut because of the ash cloud. Train, bus and ferry services are also being increased.

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1244 Geoff Mayes, stuck in Istanbul writes:

I was over in Turkey covering a motor rally but am now stranded here. The organisers appear oblivious to our plight. It is a fiasco and we are rapidly running out of money! What evidence do we have that the ash actually damages the engines?

1221 Many schools around the UK are struggling to remain open with teachers and pupils stranded overseas by flight cancellations. Read the story here.

1217 British Airways says the UK flight restrictions is costing the airline about £15-20 million a day. BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh says airlines have asked the European Union for financial compensation.

Lorna Gordon

1209 The BBC's Lorna Gordon in Iceland says:

The top of the ash cloud reaching into the sky has lowered. It is no longer registering on weather radar and scientists estimate its maximum height is now around 3,000-4,000m. Mush less ash is now being released into the atmosphere compared to the beginning of this eruption and scientists say they believe the volcanic activity may now be entering a different phase.

1207 Nato fighter jets have suffered engine damage after flying through volcanic ash cloud, a senior US official has said. The official gave few details except to say that a build-up of glass was found in the jet engines.

1201 Finland says it is opening its main Helsinki-Vantaa airport at 1200 GMT for at least eight hours after a hole opened in the volcanic ash cloud in its airspace.

1200 SeaFrance, which operates the Calais-Dover service, says it has space available for cars on its sailings on Monday and is taking foot passenger bookings for sailings up until 2000 BST.

1154 The latest blog entry by the BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tells how social media sites are being used to help stranded travellers get home.

1153 Extra carriages are being added to trains serving the Irish Sea ferry ports of Holyhead and Fishguard in Wales.

1151 Hungary fully re-opened its airspace from 1000 GMT, the national air traffic controller HungaroControl announces.


1143 Dutch airline KLM tweets: KLM test flight Amsterdam-Paris landed safely at 11.40hrs. Technical inspection points out: no problems detected. Read tweets from European airline carriers on Die Zeit online

1134 Jacques Cailloux, chief European economist at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), told BBC World Service that they estimate the European economy is suffering an output loss of around $500m a day because of people being absent from work.

Icelandic President Olaf Ragnar Grimsson: "It's an important lesson for all of us"

1132 Scores of musicians, stranded in the UK because of the travel disruption, are now looking for work. Simon Cooke, managing director of Ronnie Scott's in London, says the club has been deluged with calls from musicians hoping to play the club this week as their flights out of the country remain grounded.

1129 Read about what the British government plans to do to get stranded Britons home. This page will be updated throughout the day.

1126 The European Union's transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, tells a news briefing that the economic impact to the airline industry could be greater than that caused by the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001.

1123 The BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt writes in his blog: "The carriers are desperate to get back into the skies. Their losses are rising. Some now say they are collectively losing $250m (£163m; 185m euros) a day. What they are doing is challenging the national civil aviation authorities to ease restrictions."

1120 Head of the International Air Transport Association, Giovanni Bisignani, says the transport chaos is "a European embarrassment and it's a European mess". Read the story here.

1117 The UK's Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says his brother-in-law has "rashly offered" to drive his three children back from Spain, where they have been stranded, to one of the French channel ports.

1115 BBC science correspondent Tom Feilden writes in his blog: "Just because planes can take off, fly around a bit and come back unscathed, doesn't mean it's safe".

1114 Germany is sending up a special flight with instruments to test the amount of volcanic ash in the nation's airspace.

The transport ministry says the findings will help to determine whether it is safe to launch and land planes in Germany.

1101 Thousands of Kenyan farm workers have been temporarily laid off because the flight ban to Europe means the harvesting of flowers and vegetables has had to stop. Read about it here.

1100 The P&O Ferries website is currently down, having crashed through sheer volume of traffic.

1058 HMS Albion is on its way to Santander in northern Spain, where it will collect about 220 UK troops who will have flown in from Cyprus.

The troops are on their way home from serving in Afghanistan. Another 300 got back to the UK on Sunday by coach and ferry.


1057allanedwards tweets from Essex: So the navy is being sent to rescue stranded Brits? Maybe now it will get properly funded in the future. Read allanedwards's tweets

Nick Ravenscroft

1050 The BBC's Nick Ravenscroft at Manchester Airport says:

Today, Manchester Airport is much like the Marie Celeste. There are very few people here. Now it's pretty clear there aren't going to be any flights for sometime, I think most passengers have decided to stay at home.

The exception is people from overseas, for whom flying is the only real option. There are a fair few passengers still stuck here, from Japan, the United States and Australia, who are wondering around looking bored to tears.

The other group of people we have seen here are those who live in the area. They're not passengers, but they are just curious to see what is happening here.

1038 Listen to Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy's poem, written especially for the Today programme, on the guilty pleasure of ash cloud "quiet".

1036 Norfolkline Dover-France Ferries, which usually transports cars and freight, says it is providing coaches on its ferry services to help nearly 400 foot passengers get to and from the UK.

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1031 French tourist Busi Daniel, stranded in Hong Kong, says hotels are cashing in on the flight ban:

Yesterday we have a price of a room at 250 euros (£220; $335), at midday it was 460 euros, and in the evening, the price was 800 euros a room, for a day - we can't pay that.

1030 Only 30% of flights in Europe are expected to get off the ground today, according to the air traffic control agency, Eurocontrol.

1026 Read the BBC News website's story about the Royal Navy being drafted in to help stranded air passengers.

1025 Holiday companies Thomson and First Choice announce plans to bring home 5,000 UK holidaymakers stuck in the Spanish resorts of Alicante and Malaga, by coach and ferry.

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1001 Michael Pruchnie, a businessman stuck in Baku, Azerbaijan, says:

My decision is to stay here and wait for the situation to clear. There were some 30 foreign people stuck - 10 Brits and Indians, Norwegians and Italians.

Discussions must have sounded to the outsider as a meeting of WWII prisoner of war escaped officers trying to decide the best way to get home. No despair, just realistic assessment and free and open comments and suggestions.

0949 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Royal Navy ships will be used to transport stranded UK citizens back home.

HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean are currently moving towards an unspecified Channel port. HMS Albion is on its way to Spain.

0941 French railway company SNCF says it will offer reduced fares and 80,000 extra seats between Paris and London this week to help stranded passengers, the AFP news agency reports.

0939 The whole of Czech airspace will reopen at 1200 (1000 GMT) on Monday after being closed for three days, the authorities say.

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0937 Alice Pegrum, a British university student stranded in China since Saturday, writes:

We are staying at university accommodation and are not being given any information. With little money and support, we are all struggling to afford our unexpected longer stay.

I was due back at university today. Some are jeopardising their degrees by missing dissertation deadlines and important exams. We have been emailing our lecturers to inform them of our situation.

0934 The Press Association reports that thousands of UK airline workers could soon be laid off as a result of the crisis.

One of the options being considered is making staff take their holidays now, industry sources told the UK news agency.

0920 Romania is to re-open its main Bucharest airports from 1200 GMT and may re-open all its airports on Tuesday, Prime Minister Emil Boc announces.

Wyre Davies

0918 The BBC's Wyre Davies in Cyprus says:

Several hundred UK troops returning from Afghanistan have been stuck in Cyprus over the weekend. The Ministry Of Defence is going to extraordinary lengths to get them out.

Some 200 troops have already made it back to the UK via flights to southern France and onward coach journeys. The remainder may now be flown to Spain where they could be met by civilian or Royal Naval ships to take them on the last leg of a long journey home.

0916 UK Transport Secretary Lord Adonis confirms that the government is considering using Spain as a hub to repatriate stranded British citizens, with the help of the Royal Navy.

0910 BBC weather presenter Ian Fergusson, based in western England, writes about the visible deposits of volcanic dust seen around the UK. Read his blog here.

0905 Director of Monarch Airlines, Tim Jeans, has warned it was "entirely unrealistic" to think the Channel Tunnel or ferries can cope with the numbers wanting to cross from Europe to the UK.

"So some kind of mobilisation of transport, whether it be naval ships or other transport across the Channel is imperative," he said.

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0900Luke Banham, in Reading writes:

I was meant to be getting married to my US fiancee. We've waited almost a year for the visa. I booked my flight for Friday and now can't fly! So I re-booked for Monday 19, but that was also cancelled. I have now rescheduled my flight for the first available which is Saturday 24 April. I just pray it doesn't get cancelled again.

Lorna Gordon

0858 The BBC's Lorna Gordon in Iceland says:

The authorities here are monitoring this eruption around the clock. The volcanic activity has, they say, decreased compared to recent days, and the plume of steam and ash has for the time being lowered in height.

0855 The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has criticised European governments' response to the volcano crisis and has called for an urgent re-think on a "blanket closure".

"Governments must place greater urgency and focus on how and when we can safely reopen Europe's skies," head of Iata, Giovanni Bisignani said.

0853 Italy had to urgently re-close its northern airspace after briefly opening it on Monday morning. Flights will be grounded until at least 0800 (0600 GMT) on Tuesday, the aviation authorities there say.

0847 Denmark reopens its airspace for flights above 35,500 feet but restrictions on planes flying below that limit will remain in place, the Danish air traffic controller Navair says.

Robert Peston

0842 The BBC's Business editor Robert Peston says:

The two biggest British airlines are incurring painful losses. British Airways is losing around £25m ($38m) a day and Easyjet up to £5m per day.

Ministers are telling me that a Europe-wide financial support scheme for the airline industry - funded by taxpayers - is a very live issue.

0833 Restrictions on UK flights are to remain in place until at least 0100 Tuesday, the air traffic control service (Nats) says.

0823 The British government's emergency planning committee, Cobra, is meeting with the air traffic control service (Nats) this morning to discuss the crisis.

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