Half of all scheduled flights were due to get off the ground today, providing a lifeline to some of the seven million passengers who have been stranded across the globe.
The aviation industry ground to a halt after a volcanic erruption in Iceland last Wednesday created an ash cloud which engulfed Europe. Áir space was closed amid fears that ash particles could cause plane engines to fail.
Clearing the backlog of passengers is likely to be a major headache for airlines, who have lost millions as a result of the disaster.
They are also required under EU law to provide food and accommodation for all their customers.
With many passengers stuck on the other side of the world, getting long haul flights into the air has been a priority. “We came from Johannesburg, and we have been stranded since Saturday,” said a woman at Frankfurt airport. “It was pure coincidence that we learned yesterday the plane would be leaving last night. So we went to the airport and for three hours we hoped, hoped, hoped that we would be on stand-by, and thank God, we were on it.”
British nationals face a longer wait however with most major UK airports closed until Wednesday morning at least. The disruption is set to continue with a second ash cloud currently headed for the island nation. However meteorologists say that a low pressure weather system moving into Iceland should help clear the skies within days.