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Europe sends flurry of flights

Brussels, April 22 (AP): European airports sent thousands of planes into the sky today after a week of unprecedented disruptions, but shifting winds sent a new plume of volcanic ash over Scandinavia and forced some airports in Norway and Sweden to close again.

The new airspace restrictions applied to northern Scotland and parts of southern Norway, Sweden and Finland.

But nearly all of the continent’s 28,000 other scheduled flights, including more than 300 flights on lucrative trans-Atlantic routes, were going ahead. Every plane was packed, however, as airlines squeezed in some of the hundreds of thousands of travellers who had been stranded for days among passengers with regular Thursday tickets.

Airlines said there was no quick solution to cut down the backlog of passengers, for most flights were nearly full anyway and no other planes were available.

“Quite frankly we don’t have an answer to this,” said David Henderson, spokesperson for the Association of European Airlines.

The weeklong airspace closures caused by the ash threat to planes represented the worst breakdown in civil aviation in Europe since World War II. More than 100,000 flights were cancelled.

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