Britain is deploying three Royal Navy warships, including the aircraft carrier Ark Royal to bring home UK citizens stranded abroad by the closure of European airspace.
One of the ships is heading for Spain to ferry home British army soldiers returning from combat duty in Afghanistan.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “I’m very proud of what British people have done, dealing with the most difficult of circumstances, often stranded in very difficult areas and we are determined to do everything we can to help.
“Ark Royal will be sent to the Channel, equally HMS Ocean will be available at Channel ports as soon as possible to help people come to Britain and we are sending Albion via Spain to look at what we might do in addition to it bringing the 3 Rifles (regiment) home, to add to its numbers as it travels back from Spain.”
The navy is being tasked with helping bring home some 150,000 marooned British holidaymakers and business people.
Gordon Brown has held talks with Spain’s prime minister about creating a “hub” in Madrid for UK citizens to head for from the rest of Europe and beyond so they can hitch a ride home.