Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 19:01 UK

RAF Typhoon training halted as ash found in engines

Typhoons taking off
Operational Typhoons are not affected by the MOD's suspension of flights

Training flights on RAF Typhoons in Lincolnshire have been suspended after ash deposits were found in the engines of four aircraft.

The fleet is being checked at its base in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

An RAF spokesman said the Typhoons were "very high performance jets" so staff were "just being extra cautious".

The move comes amid recriminations over the costs of a six-day airspace shutdown caused by volcanic ash drifting south from Iceland.

It comes as thousands of Britons are continuing their slow journey back to the UK after being caught up in flight suspensions.

CASE STUDY
Chris Platt and his holiday party
Chris Platt, from Sheffield

We're currently stranded in Bangkok with very little information available from either airline or embassy. There are lots of conflicting rumours circulating - we hear from the UK that there are extra slots at Heathrow yet our airline doesn't know anything about this.

We've had a heated discussion with them as we could be stuck here a further three to four weeks unless they put on some extra flights.

We're in a party of 18 with one injured person who is being medically transferred on Friday night, without his wife or children. One of our party is 22 weeks pregnant - she's been given a return date four weeks from today but by then she won't be allowed to fly. We just feel like we have been forgotten.

All our expenses are being funded from our own pockets and the political protests that are going on around us make the atmosphere feel very tense. We are desperate to get back.

Controllers say airline traffic is approaching 90% of normal levels.

According to the BBC's Richard Scott, the Civil Aviation Authority has pointed out that military planes fly much faster and suck in far more air than their civilian counterparts.

It says the work done with manufacturers to clear the UK for flying again did not factor in military jets, which are "a whole different world".

The CAA also says conclusions should not be drawn from the RAF's statement about the air-worthiness of civilian aircraft.

It adds that the all-clear for civilian aircraft to return to the skies still stands and there have been no reports of any ash damage.

Almost all flights across Europe are expected to go ahead on Thursday.

But large numbers of passengers stranded by the flight ban are still finding their own way back via coach and ferry, while others in far-flung destinations are facing a long wait for another flight.

Many airlines are angry at the length of the airspace ban and its knock-on cost to them.

In addition to seeking compensation, some - including Ryanair - had objected to paying the hotel and food bills of stranded passengers.

Under EU regulations, if a flight is cancelled then those passengers flying on European carriers in or out of the EU have the right to a refund or to be re-routed.

If passengers choose to be re-booked by their airline, the law require carriers to cover passengers' reasonable expenses.


BA seems to be giving priority to new customers rather than getting the stranded ones home first

Chris Ingate, stranded in Shanghai

Earlier, budget airline Ryanair said reimbursement would be limited to the original air fare paid by each passenger.

However it later issued a statement saying it would comply with the EU rules and would refund passengers for "reasonably-receipted expenses".

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary told the BBC passengers would not receive extra compensation for the inconvenience and the airline would seek to recover its costs - up to 40m euros (£35m) - from the EU "which closed the airspace".

Easyjet said the flight ban had cost it £50m, including paying for 15,000 hotel rooms.

'Too cautious'

The CAA has rejected accusations that it was too slow in reopening UK airspace.

Many airlines are seeking financial help from the UK government or European authorities.

Lord Adonis told the BBC the flight ban had perhaps been "too cautious" but that regulators had needed time to test the impact of the ash on aircrafts.

Ryanair 'will refund some expenses'

More than 95,000 flights were cancelled across Europe in the past week, with only a handful of flights taking off and landing at UK airports.

The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull on 14 April sent vast amounts of ash into the atmosphere and posed a risk for aircraft jet engines.

The blanket ban was lifted on Tuesday night and efforts to get tens of thousands of stranded Britons home have stepped up, with airlines, trains, ferries and coaches providing extra capacity.

In other developments:

• About 2,200 British tourists stranded in Spain are returning home on board a new luxury cruise ship. The £500m Celebrity Eclipse left Bilbao on Thursday and is due in Southampton on Friday evening

• For Britons trying to cross the Channel, ferry company LD Lines advises passengers to head for Dieppe and Le Havre, where there is foot passenger capacity on Thursday

• Easyjet says there is now a standby facility for its passengers still stranded abroad

• BMI is flying its full international schedule on Thursday and is also operating extra flights to and from key Middle East destinations to help repatriate stranded customers. It says the majority of its UK and Ireland flight programme will also operate on Thursday

• Victoria, Paddington and Liverpool Street rail stations will remain open all night on Thursday and for the next 48 hours, as will Gatwick Airport station in West Sussex. Rail lines serving Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports will also operate through the night and extra services will run into the early hours to serve the main ferry ports, including Dover. Engineering work on the main London to Scotland routes has been cancelled to allow more direct services to run

Coach Hire Connections , a subsidiary of transport giant National Express, has sent more than 250 coaches to the Continent to bring back more than 10,000 passengers

• European air traffic agency Eurocontrol said almost all European airspace is available, with a few exceptions in parts of southern Finland, northern Scotland and western Sweden

Orkney and Shetland airports are due to reopen but Stornoway airport will be closed between 1300 BST and 1900 BST



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