Norway restricts flight due to ash cloud

OSLO Tue May 24, 2011 5:43am EDT

A plane flies past smoke plume from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland May 21, 2011. REUTERS/Olafur Sigurjonsson

A plane flies past smoke plume from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland May 21, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Olafur Sigurjonsson

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian airport operator Avinor said on Tuesday there would be "some" restrictions to air traffic on the country's west coast as the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption on Iceland drifted towards Northern Europe.

"We didn't think it (the ash) would come this quickly, but strong western winds have brought it here," Avinor's Chief Executive Dag Falk-Petersen told Norwegian broadcaster Tv2.

Avinor said in a statement ash coming in over the southwestern parts of Norway would affect aircraft and helicopter traffic from Stavanger and Karmoey airports from 0600 GMT, from where Statoil (STL.OL) and other oil companies operate many helicopter supply routes to North Sea platforms.

"Forecasts indicate medium ash concentrations in these areas," Avinor said. "It is permitted to fly, but so far no Norwegian airlines have the necessary approvals to fly in medium ash concentrations."

Avinor added that throughout the day, the ash was seen spreading further into southern Norway.

The Icelandic volcano Grimsvotn erupted on Saturday, with dark plumes of smoke shooting as high as 20 km (12 miles) into the sky.

Airlines began cancelling flights to Britain late on Monday as the ash cloud reached its airspace.

Danish air navigator Naviair said on Tuesday a small area of Danish airspace was now closed.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty)

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