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Monday, May 23, 2011

Volcanic ash closes Greenland airspace - 23rd May 2011

A PORTION of the airspace over Denmark's autonomous territory Greenland has been closed because of ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano, Danish air traffic control officials said on Monday.

Naviair spokeswoman Helle Kogsbell told AFP that authorities had partly closed Greenland airspace late on Sunday "due to the spread of ash from the Icelandic volcano to the east coast of Greenland".

She said the airspace would remain shut until at least 10pm (AEST) today .

"The space, up to 6000 metres of altitude, from north of Kulusuk ... to Constable Point in the East, remains closed to air traffic," Kogsbell said.

Naviair is responsible for the airspace over Greenland only up to 6000 kilometres, while Canada and Iceland have control over airspace above that.

Denmark was the first country besides Iceland to close any airspace after the Grimsvotn volcano began erupting late on Saturday, but European aviation authorities have been closely monitoring the giant column of ash, amid fears it could, like last year's eruption, wreak havoc on air travel across the continent.

European safety experts have warned that the ash could reach Scotland by Tuesday before sweeping across Britain to hit France and Spain two days later.

Norwegian airport operator Avinor meanwhile said on Monday it planned to halt flights between mainland Norway and the country's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard on Monday.

"The cloud of ash will reach the waters separating continental Norway and Svalbard," Avinor spokesman Ove Narvesen told AFP.

"There will therefore not be any flights to or from Svalbard today," he said, adding there was also "a certain risk that western Norway will be affected but it is too early to say".

Only two flights were scheduled to fly to or from Svalbard on Monday.

France's junior transport secretary, Thierry Mariani, warned on Monday that flights would be cancelled if the ash cloud blew over Europe, sending airline shares tumbling. Read More