Ash Alert: Airports begin to reopen as flight ban ends


After six days of crippling cancellations caused by Iceland’s unpronounceable volcano, flight restrictions are gradually being lifted.

London’s Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport, reopened just before 10pm on Tuesday (7am today AEST).

British Airways CEO Willie Walsh asked for patience as airlines prepare themselves for the mammoth task of transporting tens of thousands of stranded passengers.

"It is bound to take some considerable time before we can restore our full flying programme," he said.

"We are reviewing our schedule to see if we can operate some long-haul flights into Heathrow and Gatwick."

Air New Zealand has also announced provisional plans to operate seven services to and from London in the next 24 hours in an effort “to begin to clear the backlog of passengers”.

Pending no further closure of airspace, the carrier is expected to resume normal scheduled services to and from Europe from tomorrow, as it continues to look for additional opportunities to add capacity between London and Auckland.

Singapore Airlines has also resumed some services to Paris and Zurich, but has not yet made an official decision about the UK. 

A spokeswoman has told the Sydney Morning herald that, "Today we are hoping to reinstate flights to Heathrow and Manchester. However, we have not made any announcement officially.

"We have put on extra flights to Rome and Barcelona and we expect to be able to fly to Istanbul, which is important to a lot of travellers of course for Gallipoli and Anzac Day."

Malaysia Airlines will also operate its MH4 service to London today, however the flight has been retimed to depart from Kuala Lumpur at 5pm.  MH2 will also operate as scheduled ex KUL at 11.40pm.

Malaysia Airlines has also said it plans to resume its scheduled flights to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt today and it hopes to mount additional flights tomorrow.

The carrier has also stressed that only customers with confirmed bookings for travel today should proceed to the airport.

Meanwhile, Qantas has extended its cancellations for services to and from London and Frankfurt.

The airline has cancelled today’s QF5 Singapore to Frankfurt, QF9 Singapore to London Heathrow and QF31 Singapore to London Heathrow.

Qantas has also cancelled its QF1 and QF29 services to London Heathrow tomorrow (22 April). 

Qantas spokesman David Epstein said Qantas passengers due to travel on cancelled services will either be transferred to the next available scheduled flights or offered a refund.

Mr Epstein also confirmed that Qantas will not take any new bookings for flights to Europe until mid-May as it tries to clear a backlog of passengers.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F
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