LIVERPOOL John Lennon Airport was this morning expecting to see the first flights since the lifting of the volcanic dust restrictions.
The Civil Aviation Authority reopened UK airspace at 10pm last night and JLA said it was preparing for services to restart.
Spokesman Robin Tudor said: “We are in the hands of the airlines and are waiting to hear what their plans are.
“Passengers due to travel should only come to the airport once the departure of their flight has been confirmed by their airline. Passengers are strongly advised to contact their airline for the latest information regarding particular flights.”
Easyjet said it was resuming flights from 1am today and a spokesman said it was hoped some planes would have operated in and out of Liverpool during the night.
He added: “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 has said it was not planning to resume flights until tomorrow at 1pm.
Across the UK, airlines rushed to reorganise schedules after the CAA eased the rules allowing a phased reopening of airspace
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said all British airports could reopen and he expected them to remain open.
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.”
Just before 10pm, a BA flight from Vancouver, in Canada, touched down at Heathrow.
Air passengers arriving at the UK’s biggest airport described their relief to be home. An unusual quietness at the terminal was soon broken as passengers began coming through the arrivals doors at Terminal Five.
Neil Rodgers, the first passenger through the doors, said: “It’s good to be back.”
As the first flights in the UK for several days arrived and took off, the struggle to bring home the estimated 150,000 Britons stranded abroad continued.
Royal Navy vessel HMS Albion sailed to Santander, in northern Spain, to pick up around 280 stuck holidaymakers as well as around 450 troops.
Another vessel – the new £500m Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Eclipse – was due to leave Southampton tonight to pick up stranded Britons in Bilbao, 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 returning to the UK to expect queues at passport control as staff attempt to process large numbers of travellers. A spokesman said: “We are manning as many passport desks as possible.”
BILL GLEESON – LDP Business: Page 8