Sharm el Sheikh flight from Cardiff airport last to leave UK as volcanic ash closes British airspace
A Sharm el Sheikh flight from Wales was the last flight to leave the UK last week as UK airports were closed after a large cloud of volcanic ash has drifted across from Iceland, closing British airspace for the first time ever.
The Thomson Airways flight taking passengers on their Sharm el Sheikh all inclusive holidays managed to leave Cardiff Airport at 11.25am, shortly before the airport closed to all air traffic at midday.
The eruption occurred under a glacier in the Eyjafjallajoekull region of Iceland on Wednesday 14 April, the second eruption to occur in the space of a month, causing British airspace to close as a mass of volcanic ash drifted south from Iceland and entered the UK.
The restrictions were enforced because of the damage that volcanic ash can cause aircraft engines.
A spokesman from Nats, the air traffic control company, said:
"In line with international civil aviation policy, no flights other than agreed emergencies are currently permitted in UK controlled airspace."
Now into the fifth day of British airspace closure, over 62,000 flights have been cancelled and thousands of travellers are stranded both in the UK and abroad. The Royal Navy will now be helping to bring stranded British travellers back to the UK. Mary Davies and her two daughters, Alison and Kate, arrived at Cardiff Airport from Swansea just after 10am and waited anxiously to hear if their Sharm el Sheikh flight would be going ahead to take them on their luxury Egypt holidays.
"We phoned the airport and decided to come to see what was happening. There are other people booked on the cruise who are flying from other airports in the UK, so I suppose they are in the same position."
Fortunately for the family, the Sharm el Sheikh flight went ahead as scheduled and was the last to leave the airport before the ban was enforced at noon. Since the Sharm el Sheikh flight left British airspace last Thursday, no other flights have managed to leave or enter the UK causing chaos for travellers trying to return home from their Easter holidays.
Officials have confirmed that British airspace will be closed until at least 1am on Tuesday 20 April and are currently analysing data from a BA test flight which was sent out last night and landed back at Cardiff Airport. Over 20 airports have restrictions in place and so far the chaos has cost British Airways between £15-20million per day. The volcano in Iceland is now said to be spewing far less ash but restrictions will remain in place until further tests have been carried out.
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