A handful of flights returned to the skies over Scotland yesterday, but forecasters warned that a fresh plume of ash from the erupting Icelandic volcano could hit the country over the weekend. Airports at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen took advantage of the window of opportunity to act as the UK’s main hub, receiving thousands of passengers who were otherwise unable to travel home.
As the skies over Scotland cleared yesterday, Nats – the body that controls UK airspace – allowed selected planes to land at Glasgow Airport, including some flights from Cancun in Mexico, Orlando and the Dominican Republic that had been due to land in London. Passengers were then bussed down south.
Restrictions on Scottish airspace were lifted at 7pm, but the closures that have affected hundreds of thousands of passengers in 20 countries will remain in force in the rest of the UK until at least 1pm today.
An Icelandair flight lands in Glasgow on Friday afternoon
The cancellations are costing the European airline industry about £129 million each day in lost revenue alone, and the International Air Transport Association said this was a conservative estimate that did not take into account the re-routing of aircraft.
Some transatlantic flights were expected to be rerouted to Scotland today, including four from New York, one from Los Angeles, one from San Francisco and one from Calgary, but airlines have warned passengers to check before leaving for the airport.
Ryanair has already decided to cancel all scheduled flights between the affected areas until 1pm on Monday. Other airlines, including British Airways, were expecting to run some flights today, although major airports including Heathrow and Stansted were to remain closed at least until the afternoon.
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis warned it was “likely that significant disruption to most UK air services will continue for at least the next 48 hours”.