Emirates and Etihad airlines have been forced to cancel a number of flights to the UK today because of a planned closure of UK airspace as an ash cloud from a volcanic eruption in Iceland moves across the country. The airports affected include London Heathrow and Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow. Emirates passengers in transit at Dubai today are being provided with hotel accommodation. Passengers that are yet to depart for UK-bound destinations from other Emirates gateways across the network are being contacted through the airline's call centres and local offices. The airline has set aside a dedicated check-in area at Emirates Terminal 3 Dubai to look after the requirements of passengers affected by the cancellation of its UK flights today. At this time no other routes are affected. Eitihad staff are communicating with as many passengers as possible to advise them of the cancellations. Those stranded are among tens of thousands of passengers across Europe who were stranded as flights were cancelled and it was not clear when it would be safe enough to fly again. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said non-emergency flights would be banned in all airports until at least 6pm local time. Irish authorities also closed their air space for at least eight hours, along with closures by aviation authorities in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The move shut down London's Heathrow airport, a major trans-Atlantic hub which handles upwards of 1,200 flights and 180,000 passengers per day. The closure also affected London's second- and third-largest airports, Gatwick and Stansted. Shutdowns and cancellations spread to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. The volcano's smoke and ash poses a threat to aircraft because it can affect visibility, and microscopic debris can get sucked into aeroplane engines and can cause them to shut down. In Paris, all flights north were cancelled until midnight. At Copenhagen's international airport, where spokesman Henrik Peter Joergensen said some 25,000 passengers would be affected there. "At the present time it is impossible to say when we will resume flying," Mr Joergensen said.
Etihad EY21, Abu Dhabi to Manchester, due to depart at 10.10am local time EY22, Manchester to Abu Dhabi, due to depart at 9.05pm local time EY17, Abu Dhabi to Heathrow, due to depart at 1.30pm local time EY18, Heathrow to Abu Dhabi due to depart at 9.20pm local time EY20, Heathrow to Abu Dhabi, due to depart at 2.45pm local time Emirates London Heathrow (EK29/030, EK03/04 and EK05/06) London Gatwick (EK09/10) Manchester (EK17/18 and EK19/20) Newcastle (EK35/36) Birmingham (EK39/40 and EK37/38) Glasgow (EK27/28)
* Additional reporting by Reuters