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French airspace partially closed; flights bound for the UK Scandinavia grounded

Civil aviation authorities are partially closing French airspace following Iceland’s volcano eruption that sent a cloud of ash skyward, disrupting flight schedules across northern Europe.

The DGAC at first issued an advisory Thursday directing passengers to check with airline representatives about delays and cancellations.  But the agency followed up with the closures of about 25 airports as a precaution after consulting with officials in London and French meteorologists.

“Air traffic to the United Kingdom and Scandinavia are disturbed,” said an electronic bulletin from airport officials in Paris earlier in the day. Flights originating from Paris' Charles de Gaulle to London, Scotland, Oslo and Copenhagen were canceled. It was unclear how long the affected flights from Paris would remain grounded.

As the day progressed, officials issued an update to say that the city's major airports, along with others in cities like Strasbourg and Caen in northern France were due to close by late evening.  Smaller airports in other northern cities were ordered to close their airspace by late afternoon. Volcanic ash affects a pilot’s visibility and can cause a plane’s engines to malfunction in mid-air. 

Reader comments left on newspaper websites ranged from those worrying that the end of the world was near in light of recent earthquakes, floods and other disasters worldwide to others wondering whether greenhouse gases were being released into the atmosphere with the ash.

Such viewpoints were debated and refuted by other readers who pointed out that a volcano's eruption was a natural phenomenon. Additional information on the consequences of this on air traffic would follow," the DGAC statement said.

More on the ash cloud.