Page last updated at 04:19 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 05:19 UK

Airspace over part of northern England could reopen

Empty East Midlands Airport

Airspace over part of northern England could reopen on Tuesday but experts are now assessing the threat from a new cloud of volcanic ash.

Flight restrictions put in place after a volcano erupted in Iceland on Thursday left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded across Europe.

Airspace south from Scotland to a line between Teesside and Blackpool will reopen from 0900 BST on Tuesday.

Restrictions above the rest of England will be announced later.

Air traffic control body Nats said: "The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK."

Manchester Airport has said it will open at 0900 BST on Tuesday unless there is a deterioration in conditions.

Stranded students

Teachers and students due to start the new term on Monday were among those left stuck overseas as a result of the flight ban.

A staff shortage forced Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Derbyshire to close.

Sixteen members of staff were unable to return to work because of travel problems caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

Mother's anguish as daughter is stranded in Beijing

The headmaster, four other members of staff, and 32 pupils from the Ashbourne school have been left stranded in New York after flying to the city for an art trip.

The school was expected to reopen on Tuesday.

Hanham Abbots Junior School in Bristol said eight members of staff had been left stranded by the flight ban.

The school is also expected to reopen on Tuesday when five teachers return. They had been attending an organised event in Lithuania over the Easter break.

Four teachers and 40 pupils from Orleans Park School in Twickenham, south London, are stuck in Shanghai, China.

The school's head teacher was due to meet parents of the stranded children on Monday.

Cheering parents

Almost a third of the 240 girls and about six teachers at Cheltenham Ladies' College in Gloucestershire also missed the start of the new term because of travel problems.

One group of Cambridgeshire students left stranded in Sicily made it back to England after a three-day coach and ferry trip across Europe.

The children from Comberton Village College had been on a geography trip to study volcanoes. They arrived back at the school on Monday where they were met by cheering parents.

But A-level student Tom Holliday, 18, from Windsor, who is stranded in Tokyo along with his mother, told the BBC there was nothing they could do but wait.

"We have been told that the next flight we can get is on Saturday 1 May which is obviously unacceptable with the various commitments we both have," said Mr Holliday, who is due to sit practical A-level exams over the coming weeks.

"There is nothing we can do but wait for the next available flight and watch as our money burns away."

'Dunkirk spirit'

A Cambridge man stranded in Malta has compared his efforts to organise transport home for his family and fellow holiday-makers to the famous film the Great Escape.

Howard Tuck chartered a coach to take them via ferry to Sicily and then on to the Italian mainland. From there they plan to drive to Calais.

He told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire the group were displaying "Dunkirk spirit".

The flight ban left Neil Gallacher, business correspondent for BBC South West, stranded in Osaka, Japan.

Neil Gallacher in Japan
BBC correspondent Neil Gallacher was stuck in Japan

Mr Gallacher was due to fly to Dubai on Monday but has been told he may then have to wait up to a fortnight for a seat on a connecting flight to London.

"According to my airline, Emirates, I won't be getting back for a bafflingly long time," he said.

"I won't be rejoining work or family for nearly another fortnight.

"That's the soonest they've been able to offer me space on a UK flight."

Travel chaos

After fears the flight ban could also affect Europa League matches, governing body Uefa has confirmed that Liverpool's semi-final first leg at Atletico Madrid will go ahead on Thursday.

Fulham's game in Hamburg will also take place on Thursday as planned, it said.

British Airways' test flight
British Airways had a test flight from Heathrow to Cardiff on Sunday

The 2010 European Gymnastic Championships in Birmingham has been delayed by a day, but organisers plan to go ahead this week despite the travel chaos.

Gymnasts have arrived in the city from countries including Austria, France, Slovakia and Croatia after boarding buses and ferries.

Officials from the Local Organising Committee - made up of Birmingham City Council, British Gymnastics and the European Union of Gymnastics - have been travelling to meet European competitors arriving at Dover and bringing them to Birmingham by coach.

Ministers have attended a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee at Downing Street to discuss the situation.

Ahead of the meeting on Monday, Cabinet Office Minister Tessa Jowell said consular staff were on hand at airports to assist stranded passengers unable to return to England.

Lord Adonis has said the government was considering using Spain as a hub to repatriate stranded citizens, with the help of the Royal Navy.

British Airways has sent up a test flight from Heathrow Airport to see if commercial plane journeys could resume.

A North Sea ferry brought ash-stranded travellers back to the north-east of England

The Boeing 747, which had the airline's chief executive Willie Walsh on board, flew to a height of 40,000ft on Sunday before landing safely in Cardiff.

The Swindon-based Natural Environment Research Council sent up a plane on Monday to monitor the levels of ash from the Icelandic volcano.

Airports across England have been left deserted by the flight ban - but many nearby hotels have seen a boost to business catering for stranded passengers.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office 24-hour consular helpline has been set up on 020 7008 0000 for people stuck abroad.



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