Since 10pm this evening, all airports in the United Kingdom have been reopened to flights. The Civil Aviation Authority has issued guidance, stating that it is now safe to reopen British airspace. This comes after a reassessment of the risk, posed by volcanic ash, to aircraft engines. Engine manufacturers have said that lower levels of ash do not pose a substantial risk to engines.
This advice was issued as a dozen British Airways flights were headed east across the Atlantic towards the UK. The airlines have been clamouring since the weekend for a reassessment of the risk posed by the ash - a reassessment they have now got. I find it very strange that 6 hours after almost all UK airports were closed, they are now suddenly back to normal. Well, up to a point. I feel that BA (and other airlines) have leaned on the regulatory authorities to shift the goalposts in their favour. Yes, it was also imperative to sort out this mess for the sake of 150,000 British travellers stuck overseas, faced with days of travelling, mounting expenses etc.
It will take a fair number of days for the backlog to be cleared, of people wishing to return to the UK and of people wishing to depart overseas. It is just as well that the weather patterns over the Atlantic are shifting, with the wind veering to the southwest later this week.