About 30 countries have closed or restricted their airspace because of passenger safety fears, catching 6.8 million passengers in a global backlog caused by the volcano ash cloud, according to the international airports council, ACI. Some countries were already working on plans to rescue their stranded nationals. Britain, which has 150,000 people stranded abroad, according to travel association ABTA, was in talks with Madrid to create a hub in Spain, where airspace has been reopened. It was also looking at ferrying people home using the Royal Navy. However, the EU presidency offered a glimmer of hope for stranded passengers, saying half of the flights scheduled for today in Europe could likely go ahead. Alitalia SpA said flights to London, Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels are still suspended even as airplanes will be flying out today after air space was opened at 7am today. British Airways has completed a test flight with the chief executive Willie Walsh on board as they gauged the safety of flying through the volcanic ash cloud. The test flight Sunday found "no difficulties" as it gauged the safety of flying through the volcanic ash cloud, a BA spokesman said. The Boeing 747 jumbo jet flew for nearly three hours from London Heathrow Airport out over the Atlantic Ocean before returning to Cardiff. Meanwhile, next weekend's Japanese MotoGP has been postponed to October 3 because of the severe disruption of international air travel caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland, organisers said today. *Agencies
Etihad Airways has reinstated services to Milan, following the volcanic ash which suspended services to UK, Russian Federation and European services this week. EY81 from Abu Dhabi to Milan, departed UAE at 8am and is the first of a number of destinations expected to recommence services across Europe during the next 24 to 36 hours. The Etihad Airways CEO, James Hogan said: "We are progressively opening services to our guests, as we are permitted by air safety authorities. Yesterday we opened Moscow, now Milan and we are waiting on approval to reinstate flights to destinations across Germany, France and Switzerland later today." Etihad Airways does not anticipate any services to resume to UK or Ireland for the next 24 hours, as volcanic ash continues to prevent all air traffic. Bookings for passengers currently in transit are priority for the airline as services are reintroduced, and Etihad staff are communicating directly with those that are in accommodation in Abu Dhabi and other cities. "As restrictions lift, we are doing everything in our power to have all Etihad passengers flying again without delay", Mr Hogan continued. "Our focus throughout this week has been on ensuring our guests are safe and comfortable during this difficult time. We will continue to ensure they are well looked after until they arrive at their final destination."
AUSTRALIA Australia's Qantas Airways has extended its European flight cancellations into Wednesday and warned travel would remain difficult for "some days" even after volcano-hit services resume. AUSTRIA Austria reopened its airspace at 4am today. BELGIUM Belgium has extended closure of its airspace until 6pm today. BOSNIA Airports are open. BRITAIN Britain extended its flight ban until midnight today. British Airways have cancelled all flights today. BULGARIA Sofia and Plovdiv airports open as of 11am today. Other airports in northern Bulgaria closed. Transit flights permitted at 8,000 metres (26,250 feet) altitude. CROATIA All of Croatia's airports including in the capital Zagreb, have reopened. CZECH REPUBLIC Czech authorities will reopen the country's airspace and airports at 10am today. DENMARK Denmark will reopen its airspace for flights above 10,800 metres (35,000 feet) at 8am today but keep its airspace below that altitude shut until 2am on Tuesday. ESTONIA Airspace closed until at least midday today. FINLAND Airspace over two airports to open for six hours today thanks to gaps in the ash cloud. Flights to operate from southwestern city of Turku and central city of Tampere between 9am - 3pm. Other airports remain shut. FRANCE France plans to keep all airports north of a line between Nice and Bordeaux, including its main Paris hubs, closed until 6am on Tuesday. GERMANY German airspace closed until 12pm today. HUNGARY Hungarian airspace closed until at least 10am today although some flights at the discretion of traffic control may be allowed to take off or land. ICELAND Airports remain open. IRELAND Airspace closed until midday today. Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, cancelled all flights to and from northern Europe until at least mid-Wednesday. Aer Lingus cancelled all flights today. ITALY Airspace across northern Italy closed until 6am tomorrow. LATVIA Airspace above 6,000 metres (19,700 feet) now open for transit flights, but flights to and from Riga airport not expected to resume today. LITHUANIA Lithuania reopened airspace at 2.30pm on Sunday. MONTENEGRO Airports open. NETHERLANDS Dutch airspace will remain closed until at least midday today. NORWAY Oslo Gardermoen Airport open for some air traffic. Other parts of the country, such as parts of northern Norway, closed to traffic. POLAND Airports closed on Monday. Transit flights in airspace permitted, but not landings and take-offs. ROMANIA Main Bucharest airport to open from midday today. May fully open all airspace tomorrow. RUSSIA Russia's airports remain open. Aeroflot is flying to the United States via the North Pole. SERBIA Airspace over Serbia and Montenegro reopened from 6pm on Sunday. Belgrade airport open also. SLOVAKIA Airspace above 7,500 metres (26,500 feet) open. Bratislava airport closed. SLOVENIA Slovenia expects another cloud of ash to reach its airspace around 12pm Monday following which it will probably close its airspace again after opening it last night. SPAIN 17 airports in Spain open. SWEDEN Airspace open for flights north of a line stretching from the southern city of Gothenburg to Stockholm. Scandinavian airlines to make a decision later on today about resuming flights. SWITZERLAND Flight ban until at least 6pm tomorrow. No instrument-guided flights will be allowed to land at or take off from Swiss airports. Transit permitted at an altitude above 6,400 metres (21,000 feet). TURKEY All airports open. Planes flying out of the Black Sea cities of Samsun, Sinop and Zonguldak have been advised not to fly higher than 6,000 metres (19,685 feet). UKRAINE Kiev airport reopened and operating normally.
All times are GMT