Ash cloud forces Irish airport closures, Dublin clear
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Flights in and out of airports on the west coast of Ireland will be grounded on Friday but a volcanic ash drifting south from Iceland will not close Ireland's main airport in Dublin.
Ireland had lifted all restrictions on its airports on Thursday after the ash cloud blew away from Europe after disrupting flights for several days.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said six Irish airports, including Shannon, an important stopover for flights to the United States, will close from 0200 GMT to 1200 GMT on Friday.
"The restrictions are required as the increased level of recent volcanic activity has created a massive ash cloud stretching 1,000 miles long and 700 miles wide," the IAA said in a statement.
Overflights of Ireland from Britain and Europe had not been banned and restrictions in Britain, where Scottish airports had been closed, were also lifted earlier on Thursday.
Much of Europe's air traffic was grounded last month because of the pall of ash from the erupting volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland. Some 100,000 flights were canceled and millions of passengers stranded.
The closures cost Europe's airlines 1.5 billion euros to 2.5 billion euros ($2 billion - $3.35 billion), the European Commission has estimated.
The latest disruption signaled that travel hold-ups could continue into the summer holiday period because of ash from the same volcano.
Tuesday was the first test of a European system of progressive closures, including partial no-fly zones, introduced after the ash cloud prompted the blanket ban in April.
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Padraic Halpin; additional reporting by Michael Holden in London; editing by Tim Pearce)
Protesters respond to calls to defend their demonstration from possible police intervention. Slideshow