Volcanic cloud halts Baltic air travel

  • 2010-04-16
  • Oskars Magone

Planes across the three Baltic states have been grounded until the danger posed by the volcanic ash clous has passed. (photo: Riga Airport)

RIGA -- A massive cloud of volcanic ash from an eruption in Iceland has now made its way into the Baltics and has forced airports in the region to shut down until the danger is past.

Air travel ground to a standstill when regional airports were forced to suspend operations late Thursday night.

"The time, when air space will be reopened, depends on a detailed analysis, which is currently performed by the hydrometeorological service,” civil aviation administration head Kestutis Aurylawas quoted as saying.

Though it is unclear when exactly air travel will be able to resume, Riga Airport officials say it will be shut down until 6pm at the earliest. About 9,000 passengers have been stranded in the city as a result of the cancelled flights.

Tallinn hopes it will be able to resume flights early this afternoon.

Planes are not able to travel through volcanic ash because small shards of glass and other solid materials clog the engines.

The Eyjafjallajoekull volcano, which had been dormant for over 200 years, blew up on Thursday releasing a huge mass of volcanic ash that spread over Europe at high altitudes. Approximately 4,000 flghts have so far been cancelled across Europe as a result of the eruption.