(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Civil Aviation Authority banned all flights from Israel to Britain on
Thursday after it announced that Europe's busiest airport at Heathrow
will be shut down due to a cloud of volcanic ash covering large parts
of Northern Europe.
France's Civil Aviation authority also announced that Paris' main airport and nearly two dozen others are also closing due to the volcanic ash. The Civil Aviation authority cites security reasons for the decision.
Thousand of flights were canceled, stranding tens of thousands of
passengers, and officials said it was not clear when it would be safe
enough to fly again.
In a sobering comment, one scientist in Iceland said the ejection of
volcanic ash — and therefore possible disruptions in air travel — could
continue for days or even weeks.
The cloud formed after a huge eruption of a volcano in Iceland earlier this week.
Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said non-emergency flights would
be banned until at least 6 p.m. (1700 GMT, 1 p.m. EDT). Irish
authorities also closed their air space for eight hours.
Heathrow, Europe's business airport, handles upwards of 1,200 flights
and 180,000 passengers per day. The closure also affected London's
second- and third-largest airports, Gatwick and Stansted. It was not
immediately clear when flights would resume.
With the major
trans-Atlantic hub at Heathrow closed, dozens of flights to the United
States were on hold, and cancellations spread across the continent to
major hubs at Brussels, Amsterdam, Geneva and Paris, where flights
heading north were canceled until midnight.
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