There was widespread disruption to flights into and out of Ireland West Airport Knock yesterday (Thursday ) as a result of a cloud of ash caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland and the Irish Aviation Authority said restrictions in Irish airspace would continue until 10am today (Friday ) at the earliest.
The eruption created havoc at Irish, UK, and European airports and flight schedules at IWAK were also disrupted, causing airport authorities to close the facility until 7pm yesterday evening.
Irish airspace was closed down by the IAA at midday yesterday and it was expected to remain closed until 8pm last night, affecting tens of thousands of Irish air passengers. The decision was made based on advice from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London. By lunchtime yesterday the cloud of volcanic ash was reportedly coming close to Ireland’s airspace.
At 11am yesterday morning 13 flights to the UK were cancelled from IWAK. They included six Ryanair flights, two Aer Lingus, four BMI Baby flights, and one Aer Arann.
Some 450 flights in total, in and out of Ireland, were cancelled according to the Dublin Airport Authority, affecting almost 60,000 people. Some transatlantic flights were able to operate as scheduled but had to modify their routes to avoid the plume of ash.
The event was described as “extraordinary” by the DAA’s Siobhan Moore and led to a surge in bookings with Irish Ferries to UK and French ports.
As the situation was constantly reviewed and updated throughout yesterday, it was expected that delays and cancellations would continue today (Friday ).
Passengers from the west intending to travel to London Gatwick, London Stansted, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford, Manchester, Birmingham, and Dublin from IWAK all had their flights cancelled yesterday. The incoming flights from those UK and Dublin airports were also cancelled.
Passengers intending to fly yesterday were asked to contact their airline for further information but were advised to expect disruption and cancellations.
The airport said it regretted any inconvenience caused to passengers arising from the weather conditions.
This was Iceland’s second volcanic eruption in less than a month from the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. The eruption began at around 2am Irish time yesterday. Between 700 and 800 people were evacuated from their homes in the remote area as melted glacier water caused massive flooding.
Last month, the first eruption at the same glacier since 1823, briefly forced 600 people from their homes.
While thousands of air travellers were discommoded by the event, for most people the cloud of volcanic ash meant a spectacular red sunset. The cloud was not noticeable from the ground and was not expected to affect weather