German airports reopen as ash cloud diminishes
May 25, 2011, 13:56 GMT
Reykjavik/Stockholm - Airports in northern Germany and Sweden reopened as the ash cloud drifting over European airspace from an erupting Icelandic volcano diminished Wednesday.
The Brussels-based association of European air traffic controllers, Eurocontrol, said about 450 flights were cancelled in German airspace due to the ash cloud.
Projections from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in London suggested the ash cloud would dissipate overnight, and Eurocontrol said it did not expect 'any significant impact on European airspace' Thursday.
The Grimsvotn volcano has 'calmed down considerably,' but the tremors have not completely ceased, geophysicist Gunnar Gudmundsson of the Icelandic Meteorological Office said.
After a burst early Wednesday, the plume had settled at a few hundred metres and the volcano was mainly producing vapour, he told the German Press Agency dpa.
The ash cloud that has caused disruptions in European airspace in recent days originated from the volcano's initial eruptions at the weekend, Gudmundsson said.
When it erupted Saturday, Iceland's most active volcano created a plume about 20 kilometres high. By Monday it was between 8 to 10 kilometres in height. That had decreased on Tuesday to 3 to 5 kilometres.
Berlin's two airports, which normally handle 700 takeoffs and landings daily, said 185 were cancelled because of a three-hour closure. Hamburg Airport in northern Germany said 231 flights were cancelled because of the six-hour closure.
The cancellations impacted Germany's largest carrier, Lufthansa, and other carriers bound for or departing from affected German airports including British Airways, as well as budget carriers easyJet and Ryanair.
On Tuesday, the ash cloud resulted in the cancellation of some 500 flights in Europe, mainly in British airspace. British air traffic control company Nats said skies over Britain would be clear of high levels of ash by at least 7 pm (1800 GMT).
Passengers were advised to regularly check websites operated by airlines, travel operators or airports from which they were leaving.
In Sweden, some 20 flights were cancelled at Landvetter airport, the main airport in western Sweden.
In Iceland, roads south of the erupting volcano were reopened Tuesday as the ashfall subsided. Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir said 'the worst is over, and now the clean-up can begin' after visiting the worst-hit area where about 1,000 people live.
A year ago, a volcano that erupted under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier caused major disruptions to air traffic in Europe, with hundreds of flights grounded for days due to mechanical safety concerns over the volcanic ash cloud.
Read more about Germany