LONDON - BRITAIN'S two major international airports reopened to some flights on Monday, aviation authorities said, after a no-fly zone was imposed because of a dense cloud of drifting volcanic ash.
Europe's air traffic management agency said it appears the cloud is beginning to disperse. Charts published by Brussels-based Eurocontrol showed it gradually breaking up and retreating during the day.
London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports were operating with restrictions, Britain's National Air Traffic Service said. But Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, another of Europe's biggest air travel hubs, was to remain closed until 2pm (1200 GMT; 8am EDT).
Eurocontrol's charts showed the ash plume retreating by noon from the Netherlands. The London airports were open, but their proximity to the no-fly zone meant severe restrictions on their capacity. Gatwick said it wouldn't be able to accept any arrivals until early afternoon, but about 100 flights were expected to depart. Authorities at Heathrow warned passengers to expect delays and cancellations, and said they would reduce arrivals from 44 an hour to about 30.
Airports in Northern Ireland, much of Scotland - including Edinburgh and Aberdeen - and parts of Wales were also under the no-fly order as winds pushed the ash plume into Europe's busy airspace.
In Ireland, Dublin's international airport closed early on Sunday evening until at least noon Monday (1100 GMT, 7am EDT). Some airports in Ireland's west were closed.
Airports across Britain and Ireland were closed for much of Sunday, and authorities have warned travellers to expect delays through the early part of the week. Britain's weather service says the north-west winds should shift midweek, redirecting the ash away from Britain.
Ash cloud to hit 1,000 flights
BRUSSELS - THE closure of airspace in the Netherlands and south-east Britain due to volcanic ash from Iceland will cause the cancellation of about 1,000 flights on Monday, European air traffic agency Eurocontrol said.
The current ash cloud is expected partially to disperse during the course of Monday. But by 1200 GMT, the cloud is expected to affect Northern Ireland, parts of Scotland and parts of south-west Britain, the agency said in a statement.
'There may be some continuing disruption in the greater London area,' it said, adding that it expected 28,000 flights to operate, 1,000 fewer than normal.