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22.30 A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said tonight: 'Following the latest advice from Nats, Glasgow Airport will continue to handle internal, Irish and transatlantic services until at least 1pm tomorrow.'

21.40 British Air traffic control company Nats said airports in Manchester and Liverpool, plus those further north, might be available for six hours between 4am and 10am tomorrow.

21.10 The airspace over England and Wales will remain closed until at least 1pm tomorrow, British aviation officials have said.

20:40 Airports in northern France, including the Paris hubs of Roissy and Orly, will stay closed until at least midday (1000 GMT) on Saturday

20:23 British Airways has announced that all of its flights into and out of London tomorrow Saturday 17 April have been cancelled.

20:16 Ryanair has acknowledged that some passengers already checked in online for return legs of flights that are now cancelled are having difficulty rebooking via the company website or links the company has emailed to them.

A spokesperson said those passengers will have to phone Ryanair reservations from 8am tomorrow morning in order to complete new bookings.

The numbers for the different reservations centres across Europe are listed on the website, accoring to the airline.

20:11 The International Air Transport Association has said the air traffic disruption was costing airlines more than $200m per day.

20:06 The Association of European Airlines has criticised the response by national governments to the volcanic ash threat that has grounded flights, saying the economic damage was 'huge'.

18:49 It is now feared that airports in northern Italy, including Malpensa in Milan, will be shut down soon.

The airport of the northern town of Bolzano will be shut down 'probably tonight' and the Malpensa airport 'probably tomorrow,' civil protection agency head Guido Bertolaso told journalists a short time ago.

18:21 Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary says passengers affected by his airline's flight cancellations should not expect to fly until at least Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mr O'Leary described the current situation as 'unprecedented'.

18:10 P&O Irish Sea services are operating normally on schedule with spaces currently available.

The Dublin - Liverpool service has a limited number of spaces remaining.

17:29 Aer Lingus has confirmed that all UK and European flights scheduled to depart Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Belfast, London Heathrow and Gatwick up to 13:00 tomorrow have been cancelled.

All flights from Ireland to the US tomorrow are expected to operate as scheduled.

Aer Lingus has confirmed that all scheduled flights for Friday have been cancelled with the exception of the following flights:

EI 3228 Dublin-Glasgow
EI 109 Dublin-New York
EI 104 New York-Dublin
EI 110 New York-Shannon
EI 132 Boston-Shannon/Dublin
EI 136 Boston-Dublin
EI 1120 Orlando-Dublin
EI 124 Chicago-Dublin
EI 108 New York-Dublin

Aer Lingus says it has has activated a change for free and refund request facility on for affected customers.

17:16 Below is the latest image from NASA, showing the ash plume extending southeast from Iceland - full size high res image here

17:11 Ryanair has confirmed that based on current meteorological forecasts, and the continuing emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere over Iceland, it has decided to cancel all scheduled flights to/from the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Northern France, Northern Germany, Poland and the Baltic States until 1300hrs on Monday 19 April.

17:02 P&O Irish Sea have confirmed that services between Larne, Troon and Cairnryan continue to operate to schedule with spaces currently available for both vehicles and passengers on all sailings this evening and tomorrow morning.

16:31 There have been reports of 'unusual dust deposits' from many parts of the west and the northwest this afternoon.

Met Éireann says it is unlikely to be volcanic ash - but one of the country's leading climate change experts says some of the deposits he has seen in Galway may be linked to the eruptions in Iceland.

16:13 'Forecasts suggest that the cloud of volcanic ash is continuing to move east and southeast and that the impact will continue for at least the next 24 hours,' says Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic control in 38 European nations.

Eurocontrol stressed that the problem was 'unprecedented' and it has called an extraordinary teleconference meeting for Monday to discuss the matter and review its coordination measures.

16:00 Following is a list of current air traffic disruptions across Europe (all times GMT)

AUSTRIA: Austria's northern airspace will close from 1700GMT on Friday. The airports of Vienna, Salzburg and Linz will close from 1800GMT, with other airports in the south following later in the evening. The airports of Graz and Klagenfurt would be kept open as long as possible.

BELGIUM: Belgian airspace is closed until 0800 GMT Saturday.

BRITAIN: British airspace is closed until 0600 GMT Saturday but restrictions in the north have been eased to allow some transatlantic flights to resume.

Several flights permitted Friday until 1800 GMT in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

BULGARIA: Sofia airport cancelled most of its scheduled flights Friday.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Airspace closed.

DENMARK: Danish airspace is closed until 0000 GMT Saturday.

ESTONIA: Estonian airspace closed until at least 0000 GMT Saturday.

FINLAND: All commercial flights are grounded until 1200 GMT Sunday at the earliest.

FRANCE: 23 airports in northern France are closed until 1800 GMT Friday, including the Paris area airports of Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Le Bourget.

A small number of planes however were allowed to land at Paris airports between 1000 GMT and 1400 GMT.

GERMANY: Flights halted at Frankfurt airport, although it was not formally closed. Flights were also grounded at airports in Berlin, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Hamburg and Hanover, among other airports.

HUNGARY: Airspace to close from 1700 GMT Friday.

ICELAND: Airports remain open.

IRELAND: Nearly all of Irish airspace has reopened, including the airports in Dublin, Shannon and Cork. Only the area off the southern coast remains closed.

LATVIA: Airspace closed until 0600 GMT Saturday.

LITHUANIA: Airspace has reopened but air traffic control was leaving the decision whether or not to fly up to individual companies.

NETHERLANDS: Dutch airspace closed until 0400 GMT Saturday.

NORWAY: Flights were allowed from 0700 GMT in the northern half of Norway Friday, for a limited time window.

POLAND: Most of Polish airspace is closed, including Krakow airport where scores of foreign heads of state and government are expected to attend Sunday's funeral of President Lech Kaczynski, which is still scheduled to go ahead.

ROMANIA: Romanian northwest airspace to close at 0000 GMT Saturday.

RUSSIA: Russian airspace remains open. The airport in Kalinigrad, the Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, has been temporarily closed.

SLOVAKIA: Slovakian airspace closed at 1300 GMT on Friday and is expected to last until 2159 GMT Sunday.

SWEDEN: Sweden started to gradually open up airspace in the sparsely populated north at 0600 GMT, but authorities said restrictions would remain for the rest of the country until further notice.

SWITZERLAND: Swiss airspace closed until 0700 GMT Saturday.

15:51 Irish Ferries says there are plenty of places available on the Ulyssess car ferry for sailings from Dublin to Holyhead at 20:55 tonight and at 08:05 tomorrow morning.

It says foot spaces are limited for the Swift ferry sailings at 08:45 and 14:30 tomorrow.

The company also has 'plenty' of space for foot and car passengers on the Rosslare to Pembroke services at 20:45 and 08:45 tomorrow.

15:45 Britain has extended a ban on most flights until 7am tomorrow but eased restrictions in the north to allow some transatlantic flights to resume tonight.

Flights across the North Atlantic could resume into Scotland and Northern Ireland from this evening also.

Sleeping 'passengers' at Stansted Airport in London

15:39 Just days after the International Air Transport Association said many airlines were coming out of recession, the ash fallout has hit share prices hard.

Lufthansa, British Airways, Air Berlin, Air France, Iberia and Ryanair are all down between 1.3 and 2.2%.

15:36 Around 17,000 flights have been cancelled today across Europe.

Many airports in Britain, France, Germany, and across Europe are closed until at least Saturday.

15:34 Reports of dust deposits around Ireland are unlikely to be volcanic ash, warns Met Éireann.

Gerry Murphy says initial indications suggest that this material is not volcanic.

The volcanic ash plume is drifting to the east of the country and it is unlikely that any ash will be deposited here unless it rains.

15:26 However in the UK, scientists say they have confirmed that ash that settled in the Sheffield area is in fact volcanic.

Dr Hywel Jones from Sheffield University's Materials and Engineering Research Institute, spotted the dust on his cycle ride into work.

'We analysed the samples and found they contained silicon and oxygen, calcium, aluminium and sodium, which make up volcanic matter.'

15:20 The World Health Organisation has said that people with lung conditions, like emphysema and asthma, should stay indoors if volcanic ash begins to settle.

But speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said the HSE had advised the public that the plume of volcanic ash was not considered to be a health risk.

Currently, the majority of cloud ash is seven to 10km high in the atmosphere, and is being closely monitored.

15.05 Authorities: Hungarian airspace to close from 18.00 (Irish time)

Image of ash cloud

15.00 Irish airspace and airports will continue to operate without restrictions, with the exception of a block off the south coast, the Irish Aviation Authority says in a statement.

The situation will be reviewed again later this evening.

14.58 Restrictions on all flights in and out of England and Wales will remain in place until at least 7am tomorrow, air traffic control company Nats has said.

14.56 In a statement, Aer Lingus has confirmed that all scheduled flights for the remainder of the day, have been cancelled with the exception of the following flights:
EI 3228
EI 137
EI 104
EI 110
EI 132
EI 136
EI 1120
EI 124

Aer Lingus flights EI 109 from Dublin to New York and EI 108 from New York to Dublin are currently scheduled to operate.

14.45 The Emergency Response Coordination Committee has said that although Irish airspace has reopened the problems with the volcanic ash are not over.

Irish Aviation Authority’s Denis Daly said disruption to flights is likely to continue in the rest of Europe for some time yet because the plume of ash has moved further East.

14:38 Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack says high pressure has pushed the plume east and it never came over Ireland. She said a change in the winds on Monday or Tuesday could bring it back over the country.

However, she said heavy rain in Iceland may wash the particles out of the air before then.

The ERCC will meet again tomorrow at 11am.

14.34 Galway Airport, which was closed since early morning, re-opened at lunchtime.

The first Aer Aran flight to Dublin took off at 14.25. There will be no flights today to UK airports.

14:17 Watch a news conference from Eurocontrol, which oversees air safety operations throughout Europe, live from Brussels. On RTÉ.ie/live NOW

13:50 The IAA has lifted restrictions with immediate effect on transatlantic services to and from Shannon Airport.

Restrictions will remain in force for large parts of the UK and Northern Europe for the present.

13:47 Was there volcanic ash on your car this morning? Callers to Liveline certainly believe they have found some - Listen live

13:45 Latest satellite image of northwest Europe (courtesy of Met Éireann). The below image was taken at midday by the METEOSAT-8 geostationary satellite, located over the Equator.

13:38 The majority of airspace and airports in the UK, France and Germany continue to have restrictions in place.

The weather maps show the volcanic ash cloud hanging over England and Wales and most of mainland Europe.

The Irish Aviation Authority says there will continue to be restrictions in those countries for at least the next 24 hours.

This will mean that there will continue to be serious disruption for eastbound and southbound traffic out of Irish airports.

13:15 The Whitney Houston concerts in Dublin this weekend and Tuesday will go ahead.

A spokesperson for the singer said that when Whitney was made aware of the airport closures, she made the decision to drive from Birmingham to Dublin via the ferry, so that she would not disappoint her Irish fans.

13.00 All flights at Knock Airport have been cancelled for the day apart from one incoming Aer Arann flight from Dublin this evening at 7pm. The cancelled flights include nine outgoing to the UK and one to Alicante.

12.52 Finnish fighter jets which flew through the volcanic dust covering much of Europe suffered damage and the air force today warned the cloud could have a significant impact on planes.

The air force F-18 Hornet jets were on training flights in northern Finland yesterday morning, when airspace was still open, and the engines were later found to contain fine, volcanic ash dust.

12.41 Stena Line says it is now fully booked for foot passengers at Dún Laoghaire both today and tomorrow.

12.31 Galway Airport, which was closed this morning, has now reopened and preparations are being made to board passengers for a 2.25pm Aer Arann flight to Dublin.

Earlier flights to several UK airports, including London and Manchester, were cancelled. The airport authorities are hopeful that flights to and from Dublin will run according to schedule later today.

12.24 We here at RTÉ.ie have done our maths and it seems it would take a vehicle travelling 55km/h about 19.7 hours to travel the 1,084km from Oslo to Brussels. We are sure Mr Cleese's jokes would have made the trip seem a lot shorter!

12.10 The Dublin Airport Authority has said up to 100,000 people have been affected by flight cancellations at the airport. More than 900 flights have been cancelled yesterday and today, and further disruptions in the coming days are inevitable.

The Authority is urging people to contact airlines and check website updates before travelling to the airport.

12.09 Volcanologists say the ash could cause problems to air traffic for up to six months if the eruption continues. The Eyjafjallajokull volcano is still spewing magma and although the eruption could abate in the coming days, ash would continue drifting into the skies of Europe, officials say.

12.08 About 17,000 flights are expected to be cancelled today due to the dangers posed for a second day by volcanic ash from Iceland, aviation officials said. Many airports in Britain, France, Germany, and across Europe are closed until at least Saturday.

12.03 British comedy actor and writer John Cleese took a €3,800 taxi ride from Oslo to Brussels after becoming stranded, the Norwegian TV2 broadcaster has reported.

'We checked every option, but there were no boats and no train tickets available.

'That's when my fabulous assistant determined the easiest thing would be to take a taxi,' Mr Cleese told the broadcaster in a telephone interview.

11.59 Donie Mooney of the Irish Aviation Authority has said there was no knowing when air travel could return to normal.

11.45 A spokesperson for Shannon Airport has said nearly every flight in and out of the airport has been cancelled today.

15 flights are scheduled, but only one Aer Lingus flight bound for Boston is going ahead.

Aer Arann

11.42 Aer Arann is to operate a limited service today.

The following Aer Arann flights are operating:
RE 233 Dublin - Galway
RE 234 Galway - Dublin
RE 287 Dublin - City of Derry
RE 288 City of Derry - Dublin
RE 217 Dublin - Sligo
RE 218 Sligo - Dublin
RE 236 Dublin - Galway
RE 237 Galway - Dublin
RE 239 Dublin - Galway
RE 209 Dublin - Donegal
RE 227 Dublin - Knock Ireland West
RE 207 Dublin - Donegal
RE 206 Donegal - Dublin

All other Aer Arann flights today are expected to be cancelled.

Aer Arann flight queries:
Ireland: 0818210210
UK: 08708767676
Rest of World: + 353-818210210 or + 353-91541900

Take off

11.41 Two US-bound Aer Lingus flights have taken off from Dublin Airport. Flight EI 105 to New York took off at 11am, the first commercial flight to leave Dublin in more than 24 hours.

A Thomson flight to Tenerife, which was due to depart Dublin at 8.55am, will now leave the airport at 1pm.

Passengers, some of whom had only booked the holiday in recent days, have expressed delight at being able to fly.

11.36 P&O Irish Sea services are operating normally on schedule, with spaces currently available. The Dublin to Liverpool service today and tomorrow has spaces available for motorists.

11.29 Thousands of travellers are stranded across northern France, with airports closed on the eve of school holidays and amid a strike on the national rail network.

Aviation authorities said airports in Paris and north of a line running from Brittany to Strasbourg will remain shut until at least 8pm local time and perhaps beyond.

Some planes, however, will be allowed to land at Charles de Gaulle and Orly in a window between noon and 4pm local time, the civil aviation authority said.

Eurostar in London

The Eurostar cross-Channel rail service laid on three extra Paris-London trains but places rapidly filled up and passengers were building up in the Gare du Nord station.

11.24 Poland's Krakow airport has been closed until further notice due to the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland, two days ahead of the funeral in the southern city of Poland's President Lech Kaczynski.

11.16 Stena Line's 1.15pm swift sailing from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead today is fully booked. The 7.25pm swift sailing from there has limited car spaces.

The 4pm, 9.15pm and 2.30am sailings from Dublin Port to Holyhead have limited car spaces.

Sailings for the rest of the weekend are also heavily booked up.

10.40 A spokesman for Cork Airport has said that while the airport remains operational, no flights are due to arrive or leave there today because of the closure of airspace and airports elsewhere.

Airspace over Cork is also expected to be restricted later today as the plume of volcanic ash moves over the south of the country.

10.33 Officials: Sofia airport shut due to volcano ash cloud

Iceland volcano

10.15 The Environmental Protection Agency said it is aware of the ash cloud.

It said monitoring of this information today has not shown any increase in pollution as a result of the ash cloud. This real-time air quality information is available on the EPA website.

10.12 The Emergency Response Coordination Committee is due to meet at 11am.

10.09 Aer Lingus has cancelled all its UK flights as a result of the ongoing closure of airspace there. The airline says it will be handling other European flights on a case-by-case basis.

09.51 The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has announced that as a result of the ash cloud continuing to move away from the southeast of Ireland, it is lifting restrictions within Irish airspace except for a block off the south coast of Ireland.

This effectively means that Dublin, Shannon and Cork Airports will be open for flights.

09.28 All flights in and out of airports in Belfast and Derry have been grounded until further notice, apart from flights to the Isle of Man.

The UK's Air Traffic control system has advised that airspace between Northern Ireland and Scotland is available for flight operations.

However, the decision to operate rests with each airline, so passengers are strongly advised to check with their airline in relation to their specific flight before travelling.

09.15 Security screening at Dublin Airport has now opened for passengers due to travel from the airport on transatlantic flights.

It is hoped five scheduled flights will leave the airport for New York, Boston and Chicago after 11am this morning.

No passengers have been through the security screening area since flights were grounded yesterday morning.

09.07 Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have shut their airspace due to the spreading cloud of ash.

08.43 Austria will start closing its airspace later today due to the spread of volcanic dust, an air traffic control spokesperson said.

'According to current forecasts we now have to say that domestic airspace will need to be closed in steps from around late afternoon,' Austro Control spokesman Markus Pohanka said.

He could not give an exact timeframe for the closure.

08.39 All but a few flights will be grounded in the UK until 1am tomorrow at the earliest, air traffic control company Nats said today.

08.24 Brian Flynn of EUROCONTROL has said that almost half of scheduled flights in the EU will be cancelled today.

He said 14,000 to 15,000 flights will be grounded.

Mr Flynn said that the plume of ash is moving eastwards and has already cleared Irish airspace and he said that there is likely to be limited re-opening of airports in the area as a result.

08.18 The closure of airports across northern Europe may force a delay of Sunday's funeral for Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and his wife.

08.00 A spokesman for Knock airport has said it will remain closed until 1pm. All flights from there to Dublin and the UK this morning were cancelled.

It is expected a decision on Ryanair flights to and from Alicante this afternoon will be taken shortly after 8am.

07.40 All Aer Arann flights have been cancelled up until 11am.

07.36 The IAA says it is optimistic that Dublin Airport can open for transatlantic flights from 11am, based on their advice from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London.

However, because of the continuing restrictions on UK airspace and the fact that the ash plume is drifting slightly southwards, the routes to Portugal, Spain and the Canaries will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

07.28 Flights at Frankfurt airport, the biggest in Germany, have been halted indefinitely, as a high-altitude cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland spreads further over Europe.

06.54 All flights into and out of Belfast and Derry will be grounded until at least lunchtime.

Belfast International Airport

06.50 As it stands, seven flights are due to leave Dublin airport this morning. Five are Aer Lingus flights to New York, Chicago and Boston. There is also a TUI flight to Tenerife scheduled to depart at 8.55am and an Aer Arann flight to Donegal at 11.40am is still listed as flying.

However, Aer Arann has cancelled the following flights today:

RE 801 Isle of Man - London City
RE 802 London City - Isle of Man
RE 501 Galway - London Luton
RE 502 London Luton - Galway
RE 373 Dublin - Isle of Man
RE 374 Isle of Man - Dublin
RE 211 Dublin - Sligo
RE 212 Sligo - Dublin
RE 230 Galway - Dublin
RE 231 Dublin - Galway
RE 232 Galway - Dublin
RE 515 Galway - Manchester
RE 516 Manchester - Galway
RE 220 Knock Ireland West - Dublin
RE 605 Dublin - Cork
RE 301 Cork - Belfast
RE 302 Belfast - Cork
RE 622 Cork - Dublin
RE 281 Dublin - City of Derry
RE 282 City of Derry - Dublin
RE 541 Waterford - London Luton
RE 542 London Luton - Waterford

The Irish Aviation Authority will begin to consider its plans following an update from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London, which is due sometime after 7am.

However, the IAA has said it will not announce its review until around 11am.

06.46 The European Commission says that air travellers hit by the grounding of all flights by the volcanic ash threat can still claim most of their EU rights, even though the disruption is beyond airlines' control.

Travel operators remain liable to reimburse ticket fares or to re-route their stranded passengers - but will not have to pay financial compensation for delays or cancellations, because of the special circumstances.

Cancelled flights

06.20 CityJet has cancelled several flights and passengers should not go to the airport for these flights.

DUBLIN - AF5115, AF5124, AF5117, AF5126, AF5118, AF5223
ORY - AF5018, AF5020, AF5021
EDINBURGH - AF5158, AF5159, AF5157, AF5160, AF5156
DUNDEE- AF5173, AF5172, AF5170, AF5171
AMSTERDAM - VG209, VG210, VG215, VG216, VG 217, VG218, VG221, VG222, VG225
MILAN - AF5200, AF5201

The airline will issue an update at 9am.

06.11 Last night the Irish Aviation Authority lifted restrictions on flights to and from the State airports at Cork and Shannon and some of the western regional airports.

This will allow transatlantic flights and internal flights to take off and land at Shannon.

Restrictions remain in place at Dublin and will be reviewed at 11am this morning.

The IAA says its priority is the safety of the pilots, crews and passengers on all flights.

Eyjafallajoekull volcano erupting

06.07 In an update at 2.30am this morning, the UK's National Air Traffic Service, NATS, said the eruption in Iceland continues and the cloud of volcanic ash continues to cover much of the UK.

Following a review of the latest British Met Office information, NATS advised that restrictions will remain in place in UK controlled airspace until 7pm this evening, at the earliest.

NATS said that in general, the situation cannot be said to be improving with any certainty.

It said the forecast volcanic ash affected area appears to be closing in from east to west.

06.00 Major disruption to flights is to continue today, as a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland continues to affect air traffic throughout northern Europe.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus have cancelled all scheduled UK and European departures until at least 1pm.

However, Aer Lingus says flights from Ireland to the US are expected to operate with delays, with the exception of flight EI 111 from Shannon to New York and flight EI 109 from Dublin to New York, which have been cancelled.