Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 14:08 UK

England's first flight for six days lands in Newcastle

Newcastle Airport
Passengers are being advised to check airport websites

The first commercial flight to land in England since UK airports were closed six days ago has touched down at Newcastle Airport.

UK airspace has been restricted because of volcanic ash from Iceland.

An airport spokesperson said only eight flights out of a normal programme of 130 would be operational.

The Eastern Airways flight from Aberdeen landed at 0940 BST. Services have not yet resumed at Durham Tees Valley Airport, despite earlier hopes.

Passengers at both airports have been advised to check airline websites for updates before travelling.

Graeme Mason, from Newcastle Airport, described Tuesday's activity at the airport as a "very limited operation" and added there was no guarantee airspace would remain open.

Hugh Lang, from Durham Tees Valley, described the situation as "unprecedented" and very difficult to plan.

The Great North Air Ambulance has already resumed its service.

The charity said that after every flight the helicopter's engines were being inspected for ash, as well as being hosed out at the end of every shift.

'Utterly abandoned'

Thousands of North East passengers remain stranded abroad.

A rescue flight took off from Newcastle Airport at 1100 BST bound for stranded passengers in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

The Jet2 flight has been scheduled to return with 229 passengers on Tuesday evening.

The airline has said it will land the aircraft in mainland Europe and transfer passengers back to the UK by coach if airspace becomes restricted again.

Gemma Bolton, from Newcastle, is stranded in Sharm el Sheikh with her family, including her four-year-old son and four-month-old baby. They were due to fly home to Newcastle on 17 April.

She said: "Our additional costs have now surpassed £5,000.

"We feel utterly abandoned by our airline and our country, as we cannot contact either the Foreign Office or the British consulate in Cairo. It's a really stressful and desperate situation."

The volcanic ash cloud
The ash cloud was released after an eruption under a glacier

Charlotte Kerr from Spennymoor, County Durham and her fiance Mark were due to get married at Disneyworld in Florida on Wednesday.

Their flight was grounded on 16 April. The couple hope they will be able to make the trip in May or June.

Miss Kerr said: "It's just been an absolute nightmare. When the flight was cancelled I was devastated."

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

"This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working."

It said it would continue to monitor Met Office information and review arrangements accordingly.

The disruption has been caused by a volcano beneath a glacier in the Eyjafjallajokull area of Iceland.

The grounding of aircraft began on Thursday morning because of the danger that tiny particles of rock, glass and sand in the ash cloud could damage the engines of aircraft.



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