Nineteen Spanish airports closed due to ash

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spanish authorities have closed nineteen airports in the country due to an ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland.

Nine airports were closed early this morning, and six more were closed at 12:00 local time (1000 UTC). At 15:30 local time, the remaining four airports were closed, including Spain's second largest airport at Barcelona. According to Eurocontrol, an agency that is responsible for aviation safety in Europe, said additional airports in Portugal and France were expected to be closed as well.

The closures are forecast to affect nearly 40,000 people, and over 400 flights are to be canceled. Limited traffic into the affected airports will be allowed to resume at 02:00 local time (00:00 UTC) Sunday morning. Authorities warned, however, that the cloud had the potential to affect air travel into next week.

The cloud of ash causing the latest closure is 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) long, the result of recently intensifying eruptions from the volcano. Ash is rising up to 30,000 feet into the air, although Eurocontrol said the risk of ash contamination was particularly high up to 20,000 feet.

An official at Eurocontrol said: "We hope that this incident won't be quite as devastating as last time. However, that depends on the spread of the ash cloud because there is a very extensive area over the north Atlantic if the winds change, there will be very significant closures in Europe today."


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