Air traffic disruptions continue in Europe amidst volcanic ash plume

13:02, April 18, 2010      

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Passengers wait at the Tegel Airport in Berlin, Germany, April 17, 2010. German airspace will be closed until 8:00 am Sunday because of a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland expanding over Europe. (Xinhua/Luo Huanhuan)

A lingering ash cloud spewed from an Iceland volcano continues to wreak havoc on air travel across Europe, cancelling hundreds of flights and stranding travlers around the world.

The French government on Saturday annouced plans to keep the airports in Paris and northern France closed until Monday because of ash unleased by the eruption that began Wednesday and shows no signs of abating.

French media reported that air traffic at 35 airports in the Paris area and in northern France will remain suspended until Monday due to the ash cloud over Europe that has caused the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II.

Besides France, many other European nations have also banned or lengthened their bans on air travel.

Air authorities in Britain have decided to extend a ban on most flights in British airspace until at least 7:00 am (0600 GMT) Sunday.

Passengers sleep on the bench at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 17, 2010. More than 110 international flights were cancelled at the airport on Saturday, due to the cloud of ash that erupted from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in southeast Iceland. (Xinhua/Chen Ming)

Denmark and Germany have prolonged bans on most flights in their airspace until 0000 GMT Sunday while northern Italy rescheduled its ban to at least 0600 GMT Monday.

Meanwhile, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and northern Serbia also imposed a flight ban on Saturday, said Eurocontrol, the the European air-traffic safety body that coordinates and controls air traffic in 38 countries.

Eurocontrol said about 16,000 flights across Europe were called off on Saturday due to the ash cloud.

The reason to ground all planes is because the engines could become clogged up and stop working while trying to fly through the ash.

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