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Iceland volcano: Airlines issue advice to passengers on canceled flights

May 22, 2011|By Jane Engle | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • An image released by the NASA Modis on May 22 shows smoke billowing from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano.
An image released by the NASA Modis on May 22 shows smoke billowing from Iceland's… (AFP photo / NASA Modis )

Iceland’s airports were closed Sunday and transatlantic flights were being diverted around that country’s airspace after a major volcanic eruption.

Saturday’s eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano was reminiscent of another eruption, of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland last year, when volcanic ash spread over Europe and forced mass cancellations of fights. As yet, there was no evidence that such a major disruption would be repeated, but the situation was fluid.

In an announcement, Isavia, the Icelandic company that operates that nation’s airports, cited airborne ash as the reason for closing Keflavik International Airport (KEF), which serves Reykjavik, the capital. It said a "danger area has been established for all instrument flying that includes the upper approach airspace" for Keflavik and also the smaller Reykjavik Airport (RKV), which serves domestic flights.

The announcement said the airports would be shut until at least noon Monday. It advised affected passengers to contact their airlines. Info: Isavia and Keflavik International Airport.

Flight information as of Sunday was sketchy. Here is what three airlines were advising passengers:

-- Icelandair:  Passengers on this airline, which flies to Iceland from several U.S. cities and also Europe, who are due to travel Monday will be offered a full refund of unused flights or they can rebook to a later date, the airline website said. They must rebook within two weeks of the original flight date and travel within a month of that date. Passengers on Icelandair Holidays package tours were being offered a full refund with no penalty. Info: Icelandair

--Iceland Express: In a brief notice on its website, this airline, which flies to Iceland from New York (and also in summer from Boston and Chicago) and from Europe, noted the airport closure and promised updates "if needed" on the website. It said it would “try to send" updates to passengers via email and mobile messaging. Info: Iceland Express

-- Delta Air Lines: "At this time, there is no impact on European or trans-Atlantic flights and none expected," spokeswoman Betsy Talton said in an email Sunday. Delta plans to begin service to Iceland on June 2, flying five times a week from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.

The volcanic eruption comes as airlines have been expanding service to Iceland. Besides the upcoming Delta route from New York, Icelandair on May 16 began new service to Iceland from Washington-Dulles airport.

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