WRAPUP 4-Few flights resume in Europe, ash cloud disrupts

* Only a few flights resume in Europe

* Iceland says volcano producing less ash

* UK air traffic sees new ash cloud on the way

(Adds Hungary opens, most of Britain, Germany closed)

By Greg Roumeliotis

AMSTERDAM, April 20 (BestGrowthStock) – European airports made
tentative steps toward resuming flights on Tuesday after five
days cut off from global air traffic by a huge ash cloud, but
much airspace stayed closed after reports of a new plume.
Italy, Switzerland and France reopened their airports early
on Tuesday though many flights remained cancelled and in Italy
only a handful took off, mainly for domestic destinations.
Hungary opened its airspace completely, effective immediately.

But Britain’s National Air Traffic Service, which controls
UK airspace, said much of Britain’s airspace would remain closed
to flights below 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) until 1800 GMT at
the earliest after air traffic controllers warned a new ash
cloud from Iceland’s volcano was headed for major air routes.

It said it would make another statement around 1400 GMT.

Poland, which had reopened four airports on Monday, closed
them again on Tuesday, as well as shutting the northern part of
its airspace to transit flights.

A handful of flights took off from Scottish airports after
the restrictions were eased at 0600 GMT. However, a Glasgow
airport spokesman said it would close from 1200 GMT until
further notice because of the spreading ash cloud.

“It’s really just Scottish domestic flights, maybe a couple
of international ones, there’s one going to Iceland — yes, it’s
ironic, isn’t it?” said Glasgow airport information officer
Steven Boyle.

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For factbox on airspace closures, click on [nLDE63F11N]

For graphic on ash cloud’s impact on airlines

http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/RNGS/2010/APR/IATA.jpg

For more stories on volcano’s impact, click on [nLDE63F189]

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Germany said it would mostly maintain its no-fly zone until
1800 GMT.

The European Union announced on Monday its members had
reached a deal to cut the size of the no-fly zone from 0600 GMT
on Tuesday under pressure from frustrated airlines losing an
estimated $250 million a day.

But exactly how national authorities would split European
airspace into areas where aircraft could fly or not was not
clear, and many countries were adopting a cautious approach.

Britain’s NATS said in an overnight statement that the
volcano eruption was strengthening and a new ash cloud was
spreading south and east towards Britain.

“This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing
conditions in which we are working,” it said.

The meteorological office in Iceland said the volcano,
though erupting steadily, was actually emitting less ash and
more lava than previously, creating a lower cloud of ash.

Meteorologist Bjorn Einarsson said the emission of more lava
meant the volcano, erupting under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier
about 120 km (75 miles) southeast of the capital Reykjavik, was
producing less ash.

“The tremors in the volcano have been slightly increasing,
but that does not give any indication of the amount of the ash
cloud. It has changed into a lava producing eruption,” he told
Reuters.

“The ash cloud is much less because you do not have the
water to mix with it. You can still have a lot of tremors going
around the volcano because the lava is coming out,” he added.

He said the existence of a new plume might be due to the
time it took for the cloud to travel from the north Atlantic
island to other areas.

“Ash that came up yesterday might be arriving today,” he
said.

AREA AROUND THE VOLCANO WOULD STAY CLOSED

Under the EU deal, flights may be permitted in areas with a
lower concentration of ash, subject to local assessments and
scientific advice.

Airlines had declared numerous test flights problem-free
over the past days, but experts disagree over how to measure the
ash and who should decide it is safe to fly. A British Airways
jet lost power in all four engines after flying through an ash
cloud above the Indian Ocean in 1982.

Eurocontrol said it expected up to 9,000 flights to have
operated in Europe on Monday, a third of normal volume.

IATA officials said the economic impact on aviation was
greater than after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United
States.

Industry losses worldwide for passenger airlines and cargo
companies could reach as much as $3 billion from the cloud,
Helane Becker, an analyst with Jesup & Lamont Securities, told
Reuters Insider on Monday. For U.S. airlines, she estimated the
impact at $400 million to $600 million.

Firms dependent on fast air freight were feeling the strain.

South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, the world’s
fourth-busiest cargo handler in 2008, suffered 3,216 tonnes of
lost shipments to Europe from April 16-19, the country’s customs
agency said.

Twenty inbound and 25 outbound cargo flights had been
cancelled. Among those suffering were computer chip and
electronics suppliers such as Samsung Electronics and Hynix
Semiconductor.

Kenya’s flower exporters, which account for a third of EU
imports, said they were losing up to $2 million a day.

Thousands of people stranded in Asia were offered a glimmer
of hope on Tuesday after the first flights started to take off.
A Lufthansa aircraft left Beijing around noon local time (0400
GMT) bound for Frankfurt, the first flight to northern Europe to
leave China since late last week.

At least five more flights, bound for London, Paris, Rome
and Munich, operated by British Airways (BAY.L: ), Lufthansa
(LHAG.DE: ) and Air China (601111.SS: ), were scheduled to leave
later in the day.

SOME MAKING THE BEST OF IT

Millions of people have had travel disrupted or been
stranded and forced to make long, expensive attempts to reach
home by road, rail and sea, as well as missing days at work and
school at the end of the busy Easter holiday season.

Some said they made the best of an unfortunate situation.

“There are much worse places than that to be stuck so we had
a pretty good time,” said a visitor to Paris from New York who
only gave his name as Gabriel. He arrived last Tuesday and was
supposed to fly back to New York on Friday.

“Not knowing when you would get back, that was a problem
otherwise we made the best of it, had great food and great
wine,” he told Reuters at Orly airport.

British businessman Chris Thomas, trying to get home from
Los Angeles since Thursday, flew to Mexico City and then aimed
to fly to Madrid and spend $2,000 to rent a car for the 14-hour
drive to Paris. He was booked on the Eurostar Channel tunnel
train to London, and then planned to drive four hours to Wales.

“It’s all a bit crazy but you have to err on the side of
caution,” Thomas said. “Nobody wants to be on the first plane to
go down in a volcanic cloud.”

Businesses have had to find alternative ways of operating.
Communications provider Cisco Systems said companies were
turning to videoconferencing to connect executives.

Britain was deploying three navy ships, including an
aircraft carrier, to bring its citizens home from continental
Europe. The British travel agents’ association ABTA estimated
150,000 Britons were stranded abroad. Washington said it was
trying to help 40,000 Americans stuck in Britain.

A British embassy official said on Tuesday the HMS Albion
was in the northern Spanish port of Santander where it would
collect 450 British soldiers and around 250 British nationals.

Stock Market Trading

(Additional reporting by European and Asian bureaux; Writing
by Sonya Hepinstally; Editing by Dominic Evans)

WRAPUP 4-Few flights resume in Europe, ash cloud disrupts