LIVERPOOL John Lennon Airport was this morning preparing to receive the first flights carrying passengers stranded abroad.
The Civil Aviation Authority reopened UK airspace at 10pm last night and around 20 flights were expected to take off from the airport today.
Airport spokesman Robin Tudor said about a third of normal Wednesday traffic would take off throughout the day, but that passengers should still check with their airlines before coming to the airport.
Budget airline easyJet saw around 12 of its planes leave the airport since the restrictions were lifted.
Mr Tudor said: “We are operational in terms of arrivals and departures.
“There are some cancellations as well but around a third to a half of the normal Wednesday business is what we expect to go through.
“Anyone who has had flights confirmed should aim to arrive at the airport up to three hours early.”
Some Wizzair flights from Poland had been expected, but this morning the cloud of ash was being carried towards Polish airspace so it was likely they would not arrive.
An easyJet spokesman said: “Liverpool is one of our hubs and we intend to run as many of our flights as possible. However, due to the extent of the disruption, it will take several days to resume normal operations and delays are likely.”
Ryanair was not planning to resume flights until tomorrow at 1pm. Across the UK airlines rushed to reorganise schedules after Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said all British airports could reopen
.Lord Adonis said there was now a “better” understanding of the effect of volcanic ash on aircraft.
He added:“As a result, the CAA has now established a wider area in which it is safe to fly, consistent with the framework agreed by the EU transport ministers.” Today, the struggle to return around 15,000 stranded Britons continued.
Royal Navy vessel HMS Albion sailed to Santander, in northern Spain, to pick up around 280 holidaymakers, while the new £500 million Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Eclipse was due to leave Southampton last night to pick up stranded Brits in northern Spain.
In total there are also an extra 20,000 passenger places a day across Eurostar, Eurotunnel and the Channel ferries. The UK Border Agency warned people to expect queues.