Britain on lookout after ash disrupts Northern Ireland airspace

LONDON, May 15, 2010 (AFP) – British aviation authorities were keeping a close eye Sunday on the possible return of a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland after it forced the closure of parts of Northern Ireland’s airspace. The NATS said it was working closely with weather forecasters and the Civil Aviation Authority — Britain’s aviation regulator — and would issue any further updates as necessary.

Europe’s skies were closed for up to a week last month following the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, in the biggest shutdown of the continent’s airspace since World War II.

The volcanic ash, which can cause serious damage to jet engines, has continued to cause disruption on a smaller scale in certain parts of Europe. The restrictions, from 1:00 am to 7:00 am (0000 GMT to 0600 GMT), will not affect Belfast International and airports in Dublin in the Irish Republic, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which manages British airspace, said.

Airspace in other parts of Britain remained open, it added in a statement on its website.

Britain’s Department of Transport warned Saturday that British airspace was likely to face partial closures from Sunday until Tuesday due to the volcanic ash which has already