Iceland opens some airspace, not main airport: official

AFP , Monday 23 May 2011

Icelandic airspace partially opened amid speculations about when Iceland's main Keflavik airport will be reopened

Iceland's airspace, which was closed shortly after the Grimsvoetn volcano began spewing ash at the weekend, was partially reopened Monday but the main Keflavik airport remained closed, officials said.

"It is now possible to land in Iceland," Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, a spokeswoman for Iceland's airport authority, Isavia, told AFP, stressing though Keflavik, near the capital Reykjavik, was still closed to flights.

"We think tonight it will reopen, but when I cannot say," she said, adding she would receive a new update on the ash situation at 6:00 pm (1800 GMT).

Keflavik's website meanwhile shows scheduled departures for starting around 1600 GMT and arrivals from different European cities from around 1900 GMT.

"We have no reason to believe that the scheduled departures and arrivals at Keflavik Airport will not go as planned," IcelandAir spokesman Gudjon Arngrimsson told AFP.

"I don't have the latest information on specific weather conditions, but the current conditions here at Keflavik do not prohibit us from flying," he added.

Isavia's Gudmundsdottir refused to comment on the scheduled flights at Keflavik, but pointed out that two much smaller international airports, Akureyri and Egilsstathir, had been reopened.

Most airlines were however waiting to resume their Iceland flights until Keflavik opens to avoid the logistics of bussing passengers back and forth, she said.

Grimsvoetn began erupting late Saturday, initially spewing ash and smoke around 20 kilometres (12 miles) into the air, evoking fears of a repeat of last year's travel chaos sparked by the eruption of another Icelandic volcano which led to the biggest shutdown of European airspace since World War II.

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