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Britain lifts flight restrictions

April 20, 2010 at 9:56 PM   |   Comments

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland, April 20 (UPI) -- Britain Tuesday night removed a ban on air traffic after starting the day as a nearly flight-free zone, officials said.

A new ash cloud spewed from a volcano in Iceland forced Britain to ground flights late Monday -- intensifying the air travel crisis that afflicted much of Europe during six following last week's volcanic eruption near southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull glacier.

An estimated 95,000 flights have been canceled and it could take days or weeks for airlines to untangle the backlog, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Stripped-down air services operated in Scotland and Newcastle Tuesday but aviation officials early Tuesday scrapped plans to reopen the rest of Britain's airspace, The Times of London reported.

In Iceland, three separate craters continued to rumble near the volcano. Observers said wind was expected to shift, blowing the ash to the north, Iceland Review said.

While many flights remain grounded, some planes took off from Paris, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Frankfurt, Germany, officials said. Air traffic controllers said more than 10,000 of Europe's 27,500 daily flights were scheduled to fly.

The European Union transport ministers created three levels of airspace -- a no-fly area, a limited service zone and an open skies area, the BBC reported.

In Spain, where all airports were open, the government offered European countries use of its airports to get passengers moving again.

The International Air Transport Association pegged losses at more than $1 billion since most of Europe's airspace closed last week because of the volcano.

The Airports Council International-Europe said more than 6.8 million passengers have been affected, CNN reported.

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