BREAKING NEWS: Further cancellations for Scots flyers

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By Michael MacLeod

THOUSANDS of Scots travellers will wake up this morning (Monday) facing the likelihood of being held hostage by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.

They were warned by the Scottish Government that the outlook would “worsen” today following dozens of cancellations on flights yesterday.

Speaking at an emergency briefing, finance secretary John Swinney predicted disruption would spread further in the next 24-hours due to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano’s continued eruptions and unpredictable wind directions.

And in a further sign of the dust’s impact on every-day life, the Met Office yesterday (Sunday) began issuing a five-day ash spread forecast as part of its standard weather announcements.

And late last night Easyjet bosses admitted they were as in-the-dark as their passengers as to which areas of the country would see planes grounded.

No-fly zone

Flights due West out of Scotland were worst affected yesterday as a no-fly zone was imposed over Northern Ireland.

At least 25 flights were grounded at Edinburgh Airport due to the ash, including flights to London, Manchester, Cardiff and Ireland.

And Easyjet had to cancel 11 flights out of Glasgow Airport.

Flights to the USA from Glasgow also had to be cancelled earlier on Sunday morning.

Carrier Flybe was forced to cancel six scheduled journeys from Belfast to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness airports.

Would-be fliers were also turned away from Prestwick, Campbeltown, Barra and Islay airports after indefinite closures yesterday afternoon.

“Working hard to minimise impact”

Virgin Trains said they had laid on an 7,000 seats on their trains to try and keep Scotland moving.

And a new guide to the level of air-travel disruption was launched last night on the Scottish Government’s website.

Launching the site after talks with air traffic and Met Office chiefs, Mr Swinney said: “Once again Scotland is facing disruption and we are working hard to minimise the impact on the travelling public.

“The Scottish Government Resilience Room is open and Ministers met again to agree what further action we can take.

“That action includes our new web pages which will give people instant access to simple information about the current situation, plus access to a wealth of other valuable information.

“Current predictions suggest the situation is likely to worsen over the next 24 hours before easing into Tuesday.

“As ever passengers are strongly advised to contact their airlines before travelling to the airport and may wish to consider alternative travel arrangements if possible.”

Check before leaving

Last night passengers were not being turned away from Glasgow Airport, but bosses warned the situation remained “fluid.”

A spokesperson said: “Glasgow Airport is currently open, but is being affected by the ash cloud which is shown as being over Northern Ireland into the north of England.

“So far there have been four cancellations, the US Airways and Continental flights both to the US and two Belfast flights (Easyjet and Flybe).

“The airlines are being kept up to date with the situation and are making plans accordingly.

“The situation remains fluid.

“As before all passengers should check with their airline before setting off for the airport.”

And easyjet spokesman Andrew McConnell said: “We anticipate there may be some disruption for flights as a result of the ongoing volcanic eruption in Iceland, however we have not yet been provided with any further detail on the areas likely to be affected.

“We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and are in active contact with UK Civil Aviation Authority and the National Air Traffic Service.

“We advise all passengers who are booked to travel with easyJet to check your flight status at easyJet.com before travelling to the airport.”

Passengers were advised by Nats, the National Air Traffic Service, to check with airlines before travelling to airports.

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