Thousands of travellers were on Tuesday stranded at airports across the United Kingdom after they had their flights cancelled because of threat from drifting ash following a volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Nearly all flights to and from Scotland were cancelled amid fears that the disruption could spread to other regions reviving nightmarish memories of the crisis last year when for days European air space was shut down after a volcano erupted in Iceland.
Weather experts said the changing wind patterns made it hard to predict the exact path of the ash cloud and concentrations would vary between regions. One view was that the chaos this time would not be as bad last year because of the nature of ash.
Around mid-day, the European air traffic controllers put the number of cancelled flights at 252 flights but as the evening approached more cancellations were feared. Passengers were being advised to check before going to airport.
The worst-affected airports included Londonderry, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwick, Durham Tees Valley, Newcastle and Carlisle.
The Irish budget airline Ryanair which claimed that it had run a test flight and found ``no volcanic ash’’ was forced to cancel all flights to and from Scottish airports after advice from the Irish Aviation Authority.
Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown warned of "significant disruption’’.
"We advise all members of the public planning air travel to check with their airlines for latest advice related to the impact of volcanic ash before setting out," he said.
In London, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond sounded more upbeat saying the situation was expected to improve by Wednesday. The crisis was unlikely to last long, he said.
"At the moment the model suggests that disruption later in the week is likely to be limited, but of course the weather patterns are changing all the time," he told the BBC.