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Volcanic ash reaches Scandinavia: air traffic disruptions

'Ash cloud won't ground Scandinavian flights'

OSLO, May 24, 2011 (AFP) - Ash from Iceland's erupting volcano reached Scandanavia Tuesday causing minor air traffic disruptions in Norway and closing a small part of Denmark's airspace, officials said.

On Tuesday morning, the ash blew in over Norway's southwestern towns of Karmoey and Stavanger before blowing back out to sea, the country's airport operator Avinor said.

In Denmark, a small zone of airspace in the northwest over the North Sea was closed from 0600 to 1200 GMT but has no real impact on air traffic, said Jan Eliassen, a spokesman for Danish air traffic control Naviair.

"According to the last estimates, the ash is of such a density that we thought it necessary to close a small part of Danish airspace over the North Sea, but it will not affect (air) traffic," he said.

The closure was up to an altitude of 6,000 metres (nearly 20,000 feet), and Eliassen explained that most aircraft in the region fly above that altitude.

Two flights were cancelled Tuesday morning at Copenhagen's airport, one bound for Aberdeen in Scotland and the other for Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. The volcanic ash cloud has disrupted air travel to those two regions.

Meanwhile Norway's Avinor spokesman Sindre Aanonsen told AFP the ash was currently expected to have only a "very small" impact on air traffic, pointing out that only a few flights in Karmoey and Stavanger had been cancelled.

The ash, he said, is only of "medium density," meaning commercial airlines with necessary approvals can continue to fly.

According to Norway's NTB news agency, the two main airlines operating in the country, SAS and Norwegian, have both requested the right to continue flying.

Helicopters between Stavanger's Sola airport and North Sea oil platforms had meanwhile been temporarily suspended, according to Avinor.

Air traffic between mainland Norway and its Arctic archipelago Svalbard had also been suspended due to ash from the erupting Grimsvoetn volcano drifting over the Barents Sea, but the move only affected two scheduled flights.

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 24 May 2011 12:05)

 

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