Britain’s government has decided to go ahead with using Spain’s airports as stopovers to get stranded passengers travelling again.
The move comes as thousands of UK holiday makers on the continent are being forced to make long expensive attempts to reach home by road, rail and sea.
It is estimated up to 200,000 Britons could be trying to get back from Asia, the Americas or elsewhere.
Spain has agreed to open up landing slots for planes initially scheduled to go to Britain. That way
passengers could be brought to Madrid or Barcelona and then be sent onwards.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said:
“The plan is to make sure that we use Spain, southern Spain as a hub for the return of British people, whether they be in Europe or further afield. Many people are making their own way via train and coach, and we want to make sure there are additional coaches, additional trains, additional ferries across the channel to get them back as quickly as possible.”
The UK government is also sending three Royal Navy ships to various ports off western Europe to help stranded Britons, including 500 soldiers on their way home from Afghanistan.
“We will use the Royal Navy,” continued Miliband. “They are not going to be able to get the majority of people back but some ships, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Ocean are going to be deployed, and I think that’s the right thing to do, to use all provision, whether it be the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, other means, other ferries to get people across the water to this island nation.”
Using the navy has been described by government critics as a public relations ploy in the run up to the election, but for those left wondering how to get home, it will be welcome news. Particularly as another cloud of volcanic ash has been spotted headed for the UK, creating fears of yet more disruption.