UPDATE 1-UK and Ireland shut some airspace due to ash cloud

* London airports not affected

* Test flights being carried out

(Adds Dutch airspace, Manchester airport comment)

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

DUBLIN, May 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Ireland shut several of its
airports and Britain imposed a no-fly zone on parts of its
airspace on Sunday as another cloud of ash from a volcano in
Iceland looked set to disrupt European air travel again.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said three northwestern
airports were closed from early Sunday but other hubs, such as
Dublin, would remain open until later in the day.

North Atlantic overflights through Irish-controlled airspace
remain unaffected despite the cloud drifting over the country.
Ash spewed from the same volcano in Iceland wreaked havoc on
European air traffic last month.

Britain’s National Air Traffic Service said a no-fly zone
would be imposed over parts of Scotland and England between 1200
GMT and 1800 GMT on Sunday due to the volcanic ash but London
airports will not be affected.

Manchester, Liverpool, Doncaster, Carlisle, Humberside and
East Midlands airports fall within the no-fly zone, as do all
airports in Northern Ireland, NATS said. Airports in parts of
Scotland and the Isle of Man will also be affected.

The government on Saturday warned that parts of British
airspace might have to close until Tuesday with different parts
including the southeast, where Europe’s busiest airport Heathrow
is located, likely to be closed at different times.
[ID:nLDE64E05Y]

“Long range forecasts indicate that the ash cloud may cause
further disruption into tomorrow but this is not certain,”
Manchester airport said in a statement.

The volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland is
continuing to erupt with no signs of the explosive activity
about to end and an ash plume reaching heights of 25,000 feet
(7,620 metres), Britain’s Met Office said.

“Winds are expected to blow mainly from the northwest for a
time over the weekend with the risk of ash affecting some parts
of the UK,” it said.

“However, winds are predicted to swing into a south westerly
direction by the middle of next week, which would take most of
any ash away from the British Isles.”

TEST FLIGHTS

In Ireland, the IAA said it was carrying out observation
flights at a number of altitudes and would provide an update
later in the day. Dublin airport would remain open until 1800
GMT while Shannon, an important stop-over for flights to the
United States, would be open until 2200 GMT, it added.

Elsewhere in Europe, German airlines’ association said no
restriction of German air traffic was expected due to the ash,
and German airlines were operating flights as normal. Airline
Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: ) said it was conducting a test flight to
collect data over Europe to measure the ash concentration.

In the Netherlands, an Amsterdam Schiphol airport
spokeswoman there were no expected closures in Dutch airspace.

Much of Europe’s airspace was closed for six days in
mid-April over fears that ash from the Icelandic volcano would
cause aircraft to crash, causing havoc for airlines as some
100,000 flights were cancelled and stranding millions of
passengers. Airlines lost $1.7 billion, the International Air
Transport Association said.

Since then ash has periodically forced the short-term
closure of parts of airspace in countries across Europe.

British Transport Minister Philip Hammand said on Saturday
that from now on five-day — rather than the previous 18-hour —
ash prediction charts would be made available to airlines and
the public on the Met Office forecaster’s website.

Stock Analysis

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London, Maria
Sheahan in Frankfurt and Amsterdam bureau, editing by Paul
Casciato)

UPDATE 1-UK and Ireland shut some airspace due to ash cloud