Volcanic ash leaves thousands stranded

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All flights in and out of the UK have been cancelled

By Cara Sulieman & Rory Reynolds

THOUSANDS of passengers were stranded at Edinburgh Airport today (Thursday) as volcanic ash moved into Scottish airspace.

Staff at the airport greeted passengers with the news that the eruption in Iceland had sent a mass of ash into the atmosphere, grounding planes across the country.

With little information available, holiday makers and businessmen were trying to find other ways to get to their destination.

Tanya Nixon, 27, and her seven-year-old daughter Alessia Fortunato had travelled from Sunderland to fly with Ryanair to Pisa.

“Pain”

Alessia Fortunato, 7, waits to go on holiday

She said: “We were supposed to be on the 1.30pm plane and then flying on to Sicily. My boyfriend’s family are waiting for us at the other end.

“We got up at five am this morning to travel up by train. I don’t know what we are going to do.

“We looked at getting the Eurostar across but it would cost us £200 each which we can’t afford.

“The next flight from here is on Saturday – I’m not sure if we will stay or go back to Sunderland.

“It is just a pain really – we have lost our money for the second flight now.”

“Wait and see”

And Romain Viguier, 39, from Edinburgh, was trying to get to Turkey on business.

He said: “I was flying down to London and then on to Turkey with British Airways.

“My wife and kids dropped me off but it looks like I am going home again.

“I’m trying to book a flight for Sunday – if I get on that I won’t miss any meetings but the airline cannot guarantee anything.

“There is not much I can do about it – I will just have to wait and see.

“At least I can go home.”

“Not going anywhere”

One group of tourists from San Diego, America were trying to get home after a two week holiday around Ireland and Scotland.

“Student Tangerine Davitian said: “We are flying to Dublin, then on to New York and then to San Diego.

“We were supposed to leave at 8am with Ryanair but we are not going anywhere.

“No one is telling us anything. When I asked one girl when the flights would be going again she just shrugged and said ‘volcanic ash’ – that is not an answer.

“Luckily we have friends in Edinburgh so we are going back to their house to try to work out what to do next.

“The problem is we have missed all the connection as well and I’m not sure if we will get a refund.”

“Too far to go home”

Passengers check their flights online while waiting at the airport

Flights coming into the airport were also cancelled, leaving one coach holiday abandoned.

Howard Jones, 64, was at the airport to meet 42 customers and take them on a tour of the Highlands.

But only two had made it up.

Howard said: “I don’t know if they will arrive at all now.

“I’m not sure what we will do – if they can get up tomorrow then we will go a day late.

“But otherwise we will have to cancel the trip.”

Felicity and Adam Gardner had driven up from Gloucester to join the group and were waiting with their tour leader.

Felicity said: “We will just wait and see what happens. If the tour gets cancelled then we will try to go ourselves but the reason we booked the tour was so we would not have to arrange everything.

“We have driven too far just to turn around and go back.”

“Nightmare”

Mark Joseph Costello was on holiday visiting friends in Edinburgh and was due to fly to Paris this morning.

The 51-year-old from Chicago has had to pay double to stay at his hotel for another night and expects to miss his flight home later this week.

The self-employed consultant architect said it could be days before he gets back to the US and expects the delay to cost him about £750.

He said: “I was nearly out of the door this morning when I saw on the news that Edinburgh airport and all of the Scottish airports were closed.

“I’m supposed to be at an event in Paris later this afternoon, but the main thing is that I really need to get back to Chicago.

“Once your flight is knocked out of the system it’s a nightmare to get back in.

“I was also hoping to see a concert that my colleague is performing in on Saturday and then I’m flying again on Monday on business.

“I’ve managed to book my room for tonight, at double the price, but at least I’ve somewhere to stay now.

“But I’ve simply no idea what to do.

“In the US you can call a helpline and they can sort it out for you, but the airport said to call the Air France desk, which I haven’t got through to yet.

“I expect it will cost me $1000 dollars (£645) for the flights, and another £100 for the room. I doubt I’ll get it back but the main thing is the time and delay.”

“Frustrated”

Pictures from NASA satellite Terra show the ash making its way across the UK

Despite the chaos, travellers were quite calm, with staff saying there had only been one outburst.

One airport worker said: “A Spanish man got quite angry with the customer service staff but I think he was just frustrated because he couldn’t understand what we were saying.

“Most people just seem confused by the whole thing.

“All we can do is give-out the airline helpline number. We can’t do anything here but wait for the ash to pass.”

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