Baltics prepare to renew flights

  • 2010-04-19
  • Oskars Magone

Passengers that have been stranded by the ash cloud may finally be able to travel again as the situation improves. (photo: Riga Airport)

VILNIUS - The three Baltic States are preparing to renew flight schedules after having been forced to cancel all flights as a result of a cloud of volcanic ash from an Iceland eruption. 

Restarting flights will bring relief to some of the tens of thousands who have been stranded as a result of the cancellations. Approximately 63,000 flights in Europe have been cancelled over the past week as a result of the ash cloud.

Lithuania has already reopened its airspace, saying that the decision of whether or not to resume flights is now in the hands of the airlines.

"We are warning the airlines, but they can decide upon flights on their own," Oro Navigacija head Algimantas Rascius.

"The newest received forecast maps from London show that at 9 a.m. all of Lithuania was covered by the ash cloud. Our data shows that it will remain so at least unil 9 p.m. The cloud is moving from west to east and is up to 10 km high, so no chances it will go away until 9 p.m.," aviation meteorology centre worker Eugenija Kuliesaite told public radio.

In Latvia, officials are hoping they will be able to reopen Riga airport at 6pm Monday.

"The tendency is clear - the situation is improving," CAA Air Navigation Division Director Maris Cernonoks was reported as saying by national news agency LETA. He said flights should be back in operation on Tuesday morning.

Officials in Estonia are so far loathe to predect when flights will be able to resume, saying only that they will not start again until they are sure that the situation is safe.

"Aviation safety is something that one cannot compromise with. If there is less than 100% certainty that there is no more ash or that it is not dangerous, no flights can be restarted," Estonian minister of economic affairs Juhan Parts told ERR.