Iceland, able to keep its airports open while European airlines were grounded due to ash from its volcanic eruption, is now closing its airspace because of a change in wind direction, authorities said on Thursday.
The eruption of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, about 120 km (75 miles) southeast of the capital Reykjavik, caused six days of travel chaos for Europe as it spewed ash miles into the air.
European airlines have now started flying again, but Iceland is just about to close after the wind changed direction and started blowing ash east towards the capital and its airport.
“With a view to the ash distribution forecast for Friday April 23 it can be expected that the flight zone for Keflavik and Reykjavik Airports will be closed for a certain period of time,” the aviation authority said in a statement.
“This is for the first time that the flight zone around the two Icelandic international airports has closed since the beginning of the eruption …,” it said, referring to a first eruption in March which presaged the current, larger eruption.
Iceland, despite being home to the volcano which caused so much trouble for European travellers, had not been affected by the ash from the volcano as the wind had been taking it away from the island, south to the rest of Europe.
The website of Keflavik airport, the main international airport serving Reykjavik, showed a series of flights being cancelled for Friday, as well as several flights being brought up to 0500 GMT, before the expected flight ban from 0600 GMT.
(Reporting by Patrick Lannin)