“The flight bans came amid fears that the ash – a mixture of glass, sand and rock particles – can seriously damage aircraft engines.

The international airports council, ACI, said a total of 313 airports had been paralysed by the restrictions and the global backlog was affecting more than 6.8 million travellers.

In another development, hundreds of thousands of Kenyans working in agriculture, the country’s largest export sector, face economic uncertainty because of the flight bans.

Refrigerated stores at Nairobi airport and on farms are now completely full, and a huge amount of fresh flowers and vegetables destined for the European market is in danger of perishing, the BBC’s East Africa correspondent, Will Ross, reports.”

“Weather experts say wind patterns mean the cloud is not likely to move far until later in the week.”


“UPDATE 21:50

Earlier today a Met Office plane went through the cloud and encountered dangerous levels of ash.

Which shows that the issue isn’t whether the cloud is real and dangerous – but whether its extent can be accurately mapped.

One possible solution is to put observation planes in the sky, to give a more detailed picture of the location of ash concentrations.

The government is therefore trying to obtain more observation planes, from the military in particular.”

What worries BA and other airlines is that they have absolutely no idea when they will be able to start flying again.

However they are beginning to question whether the Met Office’s computer model of the ash cloud is exaggerating its size. They claim that satellite pictures do not corroborate the Met’s computerised simulation of the cloud.

“It is possible that the Met Office is being too cautious”, an airline executive said to me.”



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