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Main developments:

  • Irish air space closed until at least 1pm on Sunday, 18 April
  • All Aer Lingus flights out of Ireland on Saturday and Sunday cancelled
  • All Ryanair planes grounded until Monday
  • Met Éireann says situation with the volcanic ash cloud may remain unchanged up to the end of next week

22.15 The Aer Lingus customer service line is open from 9-5 tomorrow.

21.20 Volcanologists have said the eruptions from Mount Eyjafjallajokull could continue for months.

20.44 Restrictions on flights in and out of the UK will remain in place until at least 1pm tomorrow, British air traffic control company Nats has said.

20.16 Test flights are taking place in the Netherlands and other European countries to assess the impact of volcanic ash on plane parts, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management said tonight.

KLM, part of Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM, will perform a test flight to Amsterdam from Duesseldorf, part of a series of tests across the European Union, ministry officials said.

20.14 US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have announced that they will be unable to attend the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

19.59 Two people have died in a plane crash in the UK. Authorities say it is too early to say if volcanic ash was a factor.

19.33 Irish airlines say they are experiencing a massive volume of calls from passengers stranded in airports.

Aer Lingus has extra staff manning the phones and has urged passengers to be patient as they get through the calls. A spokeswoman for the airline said the website is also experiencing a massive volume of traffic, but said it's the best place to go for refunds and to change flights.

Ryanair has asked passengers not to contact its reservations centre unless their flight has been cancelled.

Anyone who intends to travel and wants to check the status of their flight should go to the airline's website.

A spokesman for the airline said 80% of passengers should be able to get refunds and change flights, which aren't cancelled, via the website.

19.27 Switzerland has extended the closure of its airports to commercial flights until 1pm Irish time tomorrow.

19.25 Dutch airspace will now remain closed until 7am Irish time tomorrow, the Dutch Ministry for Transport and Water Management has said.

18.14 Latest country situations as of 1800 Irish time on Saturday (all times Irish):

UK: Flights over Britain will remain grounded until at least 0700 Sunday

France: Airports around Paris to remain closed at least until 0700 Monday

Germany: Lufthansa have cancelled all flights until at least 1300 Sunday

Italy: Airspace in northern Italy, including Milan, closed until at least 0700 Monday

Belgium: Airspace closed until at least Saturday 1900; main airline, Brussels Airlines, cancels all flights until Monday

Netherlands: Dutch airspace will remain closed until at least 1900
Saturday

18.08 Stena Line have cancelled their Stena Express service between Dun Laoghaire this evening because of technical reasons. The company says passengers can be accommodated on later services from and to Dublin Port. Stena also says there is room for both car and foot passengers on the Rosslare-Fishguard ferry.

17.11 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has set off by road on the next stage of an increasingly complicated journey home from the US.

She has already spent more than 36 hours trying to get back to Berlin from San Francisco, and is now heading north from Rome to Bolzano, in northeast Italy, in an armoured limousine.

16.40 Due to flying restrictions, a naval vessel will be providing emergency search-and-rescue cover off the west coast. The L.E. Ciara is taking up a position 50 nautical miles off Loop Head and will remain there until relieved or stood down by the National Emergency Committee.

16.17 Aer Lingus has confirmed that all UK, European and US flights scheduled to depart tomorrow, Sunday 18 April, have been cancelled from Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Belfast, London Heathrow and Gatwick, including Aer Lingus Regional flights.

16.16 British Airways has extended the cancellation of flights to and from Britain tomorrow to all long-haul flights.

A spokeswoman for the airline said the new announcement meant no British Airways planes would be flying anywhere on Sunday unless adverse weather circumstances changed.

16.12 Belgian airspace will remain closed until at least 7am Irish time tomorrow, a spokesman for Transport Minister Etienne Schouppe announced.

16.10 The Air Corps has taken the decision that it is unsafe to fly President Mary McAleese to Poland tomorrow for the funeral of the Polish President.

15.53 The no-fly zone in northern Italy has been extended until at least 7am Irish time on Monday.

The airspace over Serbia, most of Bosnia and Montenegro and parts of air corridors over international waters in the Southern Adriatic has been closed to flights with effect from 3pm today.

15.50 German airspace will remain closed until 0700 (Irish time)on Sunday. Lufthansa has cancelled all flights until 1pm Irish time on Sunday.

15.37 An Post says it has been using ferries to get post out to the UK. A spokesman said anything that was posted Thurs/Fri has reached its destination at this stage.

He said there may potentially be a problem with mail going beyond the UK if the situation continues, but at the moment there are no problems.

14.55 The Irish Aviation Authority has extended the closure of Irish airspace to commercial traffic until 1300 on Sunday 18 April

14.50 Restrictions on flights in and out of the UK will remain in place until at least 7am tomorrow.

14.29 Ukraine's main Kiev airport will remain closed until 1900 (Irish time) and possibly until Sunday. Ukraine's Lvov, Odessa, Donetsk, Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk airports also remain closed for an unspecified period.

14.13 Bus Éireann, in conjunction with Stena Line and Irish Ferries, has put in place additional coaches for its 7.30pm Eurolines Dublin (Busaras) - London (city centre) service today and tomorrow to cater for people wishing to travel to the UK who have been disrupted by the volcanic ash.

Additional coaches have also been put on the London-Dublin services on Saturday and Sunday.

There is also an additional coach on the Eurolines 7.15pm Dublin-Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds services today and tomorrow, and on the return journey.

Eurolines services can be used to connect with Eurolines services across Europe.

13.47 Every (ash) cloud has a....

A British taxi firm collected its biggest ever fare when a group of businessmen booked a ride to Switzerland.

The businessmen paid Amber Cars £1,200 to drive them from Northampton to Geneva.

They set off on the 700-mile journey at 3.30am yesterday and arrived in the Swiss lakeside city more than 13 hours later, at 4.45pm.

The businessmen, who had been in Northampton for a meeting, needed to be in Geneva to catch a flight to Portugal, where they had another meeting to attend.

Carl Berryman, controller at the taxi firm, said: ‘They were quite desperate to get there. They were over the moon about the booking and we were elated too. Our director couldn't believe it when we told him about it. This kind of booking is unheard of.’

13.34 With Irish airspace due to remain closed until 6pm, the Irish Aviation Authority says it will provide a 'further update by mid-afternoon' following the advice of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre and Eurocontrol.

Read full statement from Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning

13.19 (further to 13.05 entry) After the meeting of the Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning, Maurice Mullan of the Department of Transport said indications are 'there's not likely to be much change in the current situation of significant restrictions across Europe'.

He said there would be continuing difficulties well into next week unless there is a change in the weather.

Evelyn Cusack of Met Éireann, who sits on the taskforce committee, said forecasts indicate winds will come from Iceland directly across Ireland, Britain and Europe well into next week.

She said latest forecasting models indicate Atlantic weather systems that would push the ash plume up to the North Pole will not be felt until Friday at the earliest.

Read the full statement from Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning

13.16 Dutch airspace will remain closed until at least 1800 local time on Saturday (1900 Irish time).

13.05 Speaking after the latest meeting of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, Evelyn Cusack of Met Éireann said the weather forecast indicates that the current situation with the volcanic ash cloud may remain unchanged up to the end of next week.

She said their latest forecast models indicate no change until next Friday at the earliest.

12.48 German airline Lufthansa has cancelled all its flights until 8pm local German time (7pm Irish time).

'There has never been anything like this,' said a company spokesman, adding there were no Lufthansa planes in the air anywhere in the world. He declined to comment on the cost of the cancellations.

He said later that Lufthansa has safely transferred one empty long-haul airplane from Munich to Frankfurt, despite the air space being closed to commercial flights.

He said the flight had arrived in Frankfurt at 1200 local time (11am Irish time) and was being examined for possible impact from the volcano ash.

It had travelled at an altitude of 9,000 feet (around 3,000 metres), piloted in the cockpit.

12.30 Here is a list of countries affected as of 1225 on Saturday (all times Irish):

AUSTRIA - Airspace closed until at least Saturday 1900.

BELGIUM - Airspace closed until at least Saturday 1900; main airline, Brussels Airlines, cancels all flights until Monday.

BELARUS - Airspace closed on Saturday for flights operating between 6,000 metres and 11,000 metres. Some routes east and south open.

BRITAIN - Airspace closed until at least 0100 Sunday.

DENMARK - Airspace closed until at least 0100 Sunday.

ESTONIA - Airspace closed until at least 0100 Sunday.

FINLAND - Airspace closed until at least 1300 Sunday.

FRANCE - Airports around Paris closed until at least 0700 Monday. A total of 26 airports currently shut, with Bordeaux and Grenoble to close by 1500 Saturday.

GERMANY - German airspace shut until at least 0100 Sunday.

GREECE - Flights to northern Europe cancelled.

HUNGARY - Airspace closed until at least 1800 Saturday.

IRELAND - Airspace closed until at least 1800 Saturday.

ITALY - Northern airspace closed until at least 1900 Saturday.

LUXEMBOURG - Airspace closed until at least 1300 Saturday.

NETHERLANDS - Airspace closed until at least 1300 Saturday.

POLAND - Airspace closed since Friday, partial reopening possible on Sunday.

PORTUGAL- Airports operating for flights to and from everywhere other than northern Europe.

ROMANIA - Northern airspace closed from 0100 Saturday; to close all airspace from 1600 Saturday.

RUSSIA - All airports open.

SLOVAKIA - Airspace closed as of 1400 on Friday.

SPAIN - Madrid airport open, but carrier Iberia cancels all its European flights except those to or from Portugal, southern Italy, Greece and Istanbul in Turkey.

SWEDEN - Airspace closed on Saturday.

SWITZERLAND - Airspace closed until at least 1900 Saturday, except for aircraft able to fly at altitudes of 36,000 feet (11,000 metres) or higher.

UKRAINE - Kiev airport closed to flights until at least 1300 Saturday. Airports in Lvov, Odessa, Donestsk, Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk also closed for an unspecified period.

12.13 For real-time aircraft traffic coverage visit RadarVirtuel.com.

12.07 A spokesperson for the Defence Forces has told RTÉ that all Air Corps flights, including marine patrol and training flights, are suspended in accordance with the Irish Aviation Authority directive that Irish airspace remains closed until 6pm.

Crews remain on standby, however, for emergency situations. Any such situation will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The spokesperson says the situation remains under constant review.

12.01 Dutch airline KLM has cancelled all its flights in and out of Schiphol Amsterdam Airport today.

The Dutch low-cost airline Transavia has cancelled all its flights to and from the Netherlands and to and from Denmark until 1800 today.

The closure of Dutch airspace is costing Schiphol Amsterdam Airport 'a few million euros' per day, an airport spokeswoman told ANP-Reuters.

11.55 The Romanian government will close its airspace at 4pm Irish time as the ash cloud spreads across Europe.

11.50 Irish Ferries says all its ferry sailings are full, except for the Ulysses from Dublin later tonight.

A spokesperson for Stena Line said there are still places for foot and car passengers on its Rosslare sailing tonight. Its 4pm sailing from Dublin Port only takes car passengers and there are still place on it.

Both of Stena Line's fast ferry sailings from Dún Laoghaire (1.15pm and 7.25pm) are full for foot passengers, but there are some spaces for car passengers on the later sailing.

11.45 A Marks & Spencer spokesman said: 'Some fruit, veg and flower lines do arrive by air. At this stage we are not expecting any supply problems, but we are of course keeping a close eye on the situation.'

11.40 Eurostar trains to London from Paris are all fully booked as Paris airports and 25 others in northern France remain closed.

11.38 Iceland's Meteorological Office has said the winds blowing the cloud to Europe will continue in the same direction for at least two days and could go on until the middle of next week.

11.30 British Airways said all short-haul flights to and from Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London tomorrow will be cancelled. The airline is currently monitoring the situation for long-haul flights.

11.27 P&O Irish Sea services on the Dublin - Liverpool route are currently operating on schedule, but space is limited for motorists.

11.20 Iceland's Meteorological Office has said the cloud of ash above the volcano has shrunk to a height of 5km to 8km.

The office said that the volume of magma under the volcano appears to be decreasing.

11.11 Aer Lingus has cancelled all flights out of Ireland today. This includes flights that were scheduled to leave after 6pm this evening.

11.05 Fastnet Line has said it is putting on extra sailings out of Cork and Swansea on Monday to facilitate those who are stranded.

11.00 German air space will remain closed until 1am, which is causing difficulty for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is trying to return from the US.

Her plane was diverted to Lisbon on Friday and she will now fly on to Rome. A government spokesman said it is unclear what would happen then.

10.45 Danish air traffic controller Navair has said the closure of Danish airspace has been extended to 1am Irish time.

10.22 Sweden is to shut its airspace for the entire day today, and possibly also tomorrow, a spokesman for the LFV civil aviation authority said.

10.12 EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, says it expects there to be 6,000 flights in European airspace today, compared to 22,000 normally.

EUROCONTROL says no landings or take-offs are possible for civilian aircraft in most of northern and central Europe.

The agency says forecasts suggest the effects of the ash cloud will persist for at least another 24 hours.

9.50 The AFP news agency has reported that Poland's air space has been closed until further notice.

9.42 P&O Irish Sea says 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.

Departures today are:

From Larne 1030hrs, 1255hrs & 1330hrs to Cairnryan
From Cairnryan 1030hrs & 1330hrs to Larne
From Troon 1005hrs to Larne

9.35 Restrictions on flights in and out of the UK will remain in place until at least 1am tomorrow, air traffic control company Nats said today.

The ash cloud created by an erupting volcano in Iceland is 'moving around and changing shape', Nats said. If it 'moves sufficiently', some domestic flights may be able to take off from Scotland and Northern Ireland today.

9.20 Aviation authorities in Austria have closed its airspace until 7pm Irish time, while Danish air space will remain closed until at least 1am.

Latvia and Estonia have said they are keeping their air space shut.

9.10 As the cloud moves east, Belarus has closed its air space, while Kiev and three other Ukrainian airports have also been closed.

9.00 Aer Lingus has confirmed that all UK, European and US flights scheduled to depart Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Belfast, London Heathrow and Gatwick today have been cancelled, including Aer Lingus Regional flights.

8.45 Restrictions on flights in and out of the UK will remain in place until at least 1am tomorrow but some domestic flights may be able to take off from Scotland and Northern Ireland, air traffic control company Nats said today.

8.35 Three airports in the Paris area and 23 in the rest of France will remain closed until 7pm. The airports in Grenoble and Bordeaux will close at 3pm.

8.30 Neil Morris, senior manager in the aviation team at Deloitte, said: 'We estimate that the cost to British and Irish scheduled airlines from the closure is likely to be between £26m and £28mn per day.

'After two days of airspace lockdown due to a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland currently floating above northern Europe, the estimated cost to the airlines so far is at least £52m.'

8.20 German airline Lufthansa has cancelled all its flights until 7pm Irish time.

A spokesman said 'there has never been anything like this' and added there were no Lufthansa planes in the air anywhere in the world. All 16 international airports in Germany are closed.

8.10 Switzerland has extended a shutdown of its air space until 7pm, the Swiss civil aviation authority said.

8.00 In Britain, a spokesman for the BAA said: 'Following the latest advice from Nats, all flights to and from all BAA airports are suspended until 1900 today at the earliest.

UK airports closed

'Passengers due to fly today should not travel to these airports until further notice, and should remain in touch with their airlines.

'We appreciate the continued patience of passengers at this difficult time and will provide updates as often as possible.'

7.28 The ash cloud could prevent world leaders and dignitaries from attending the funeral of Polish president Lech Kaczynski.

7.25 Belgium's air space will remain closed until 7pm today because of the cloud, the Belgian transport ministry announced this morning.

7.05 A spokesperson for Ryanair ackowledged that some customers have experienced problems re-booking flights online and said passengers should ring Ryanair reservations from 8am to complete new bookings.

7.00 Passengers are being advised to check airline websites for updates before travelling to airports.

6.42 P&O Irish Sea ferry company says 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.

6.40 The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) in the UK said: 'Current forecasts show that the situation is worsening throughout Saturday.

'We are continuing to look for windows of opportunity to handle individual flights in UK controlled airspace.'

6.20 UK airspace has been closed until 7pm tonight, while Italy, Hungary, Switzerland and Romania are among the latest European countries to add restrictions to their air space.

6am Major disruption of air travel across Europe is continuing for a third day due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.

Irish airspace will be closed from 6am until at least 6pm because the Irish Aviation Authority says there has been 'a deterioration in the ash coverage and risk' over Ireland.

The IAA said: 'The ash from the Volcano is now being emitted to a higher level and thus the area of coverage and risk to aircraft has increased.

'Based on the latest reports the Irish Aviation Authority has closed Irish Airspace from 0600 to 1800 hours today Saturday 17th April.

'No commercial passenger flights including North American traffic will operate from any Irish airport during this period.

'Similar types of restrictions are enforced in Northern and Central Europe as well as the UK.'