At 07.00 on Thurs morning, airports in Northern Ireland and Scotland were reopened to the public, following blanket closures on Wednesday evening, as Eyjafjoll’s latest ash cloud headed west over the Atlantic.
The Republic of Ireland was less fortunate, however, and within hours of the all-clear, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) reinstated a flight ban over the west cost of the country. Whilst Dublin Airport remained operational through the night, six of the Republic’s most important airports were closed until earlier today.
Shannon, Knock, Galway, Sligo and Kerry airports were closed from the early hours of this morning and reopened at 10.00, some three hours sooner than expected. Donegal Airport was open from 08.30, following an eight-hour ban on flights from the Kinclasagh site. The IAA warned that the size of the Atlantic ash cloud remains a threat to Irish aviation.
Northern Ireland, which falls under the jurisdiction of National Air Traffic Services and the Civil Aviation Authority, is relatively safe from further restrictions, at least for the next few days. Eyjafjoll’s activity has intensified significantly over the past 24 hours, however, and the Met Office is concerned that ash could return to haunt Ireland and northwest Scotland.
There is some evidence that Irish travellers are beginning to lose patience with airlines, after an operational Belfast International was left deserted yesterday evening. Flight delays continue to hamper the travel industry, and many passengers have endured successive cancellations. One airport worker compared Belfast to a ‘ghost town.’
Eyjafjoll’s temper has cost European aviation over £2bn, with Irish flag-carrier, Aer Lingus, incurring a bill of more than £17m.