Seventy-five per cent of flights are expected to operate in the skies over Europe today but with so many aircraft having been grounded by the pall of volcanic ash spreading from Iceland, it could be weeks before schedules are back to normal.
More than 95,000 continental flights had to be cancelled during the last six days. But the ash cloud has thinned and much of it has drifted westward freeing up previously locked down European airspace.
Airlines are now focused on ensuring stranded passengers get to where they want to go, even it involves making unscheduled stops.
One British woman described her erratic journey home: “We’ve actually been, when we got in the plane, we were told we could be going to Glasgow, it could be Belfast it could be Manchester, it basically depended on where they found that they could get the airspace at the time, so we came down at Belfast and we were there for about an hour and a half before we then finally have come on to Manchester.”
British Airways is operating long-haul flights out of Heathrow and Gatwick but some short-haul routes are still facing cancellations. Air France has also resumed long-haul flights in and out of Paris where formerly stranded passengers have been arriving.
One woman was among a group of people heading back to Scandinavia from Africa. She said: “Well
we’re going home to Copenhagen and Stockholm actually as well. And we came from Nairobi, eh, we were supposed to leave Monday so we were supposed to go home on Monday. So we don’t know yet if we’re going to go home to Scandinavia or not.”
In Frankfurt in Germany 46 out of 60 flights were cancelled this morning but flight restrictions have now been lifted after air traffic controllers cleared almost all European airspace below 20,000 feet for commercial flights.