PASSENGERS spoke of their relief as flights began to touch down at Liverpool’s John Lennon airport.
A total of 30 departures and 25 arrivals took place at the airport yesterday, just under half the usual amount.
Even more flights were expected to take off and land today, ending days of misery caused by a volcanic ash cloud.
Budget airline easyJet also announced today it plans to fly a special “rescue” plane to from Malaga, in Spain, to Liverpool to bring home stranded holidaymakers.
The airline said the flight, which will touch down at 6.20pm, was for passengers who had their previous flights cancelled.
Ryanair said it would run a extra flights between Malaga and Liverpool tomorrow.
Some of the people arriving home yesterday had been stranded for five days, with no idea of when or how they would get home.
Steve and Eva Lamin, of Tarleton, near Ormskirk, landed just after 4pm from Naples, where they had been on holiday.
The couple, who were due to come home last Friday, were desperate to get back to their 11-year-old son Mark, who was staying with his gran.
Mr Lamin, headteacher at Kingsfold Christian school, in Hesketh Bank, said: “The most difficult thing was not knowing if this flight was going to go.
“The night before, it was looking like we were going to have to wait another week.”
Mrs Lamin added: “People were stressed and anxious about getting home so to finally make it is fantastic.”
Ruth and Peter Balmer, from Preston, also went to Naples with their friends Jean and John Robinson, from Kendal.
Mr Balmer said: “It was stressful and cost us a lot of money. We had insurance but I do not think we are going to get much back. We are just so relieved to be home.”
The first flight took off from the JLA at 6am yesterday, with easyJet, Flybe, Wizzair and Eastern Airways all operating.
Ryanair flights were due to start this morning.
JLA spokesman Robin Tudor said: “It should be fairly close to what would be a normal Thursday. It is an ever-changing situation but we expect to be very busy.”