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15 May 2010

Scots flights face further disruption

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has today called for further action to clarify advice to passengers as volcanic ash moves towards Scotland.

Met Office advice presented to the Cabinet Sub Committee on Resilience this morning shows high levels of volcanic ash covering parts of Scotland tomorrow and the whole of the UK on Monday.

Mr Stevenson has spoken to UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and written to BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh following the cancellation of Scottish flights to and from Heathrow yesterday.

Mr Stevenson said:

"High levels of volcanic activity in Iceland and prevailing weather conditions mean that Scotland is once again facing disruption as aviation authorities consider appropriate steps to protect the travelling public. Passengers are strongly advised to check flight details with their airlines before travelling to the airport.

"While we recognise the inconvenience further disruption may cause, safety is paramount. The Scottish Government is working to ensure that additional capacity is available as necessary on road, rail and on our ferries network to mitigate the impacts and Ministers continue to monitor the situation closely.

"While there will be continuing uncertainty as the volcanic eruptions continue it is vital that the public get the clearest advice possible. We therefore welcome the decision to publish Met Office five day ash prediction charts as a useful source of further information. The situation however remains very fluid and the forecasts are always liable to change.

"As important is that airlines are consistent in the way that they report advice and use it to inform operational decisions to avoid unnecessary and unhelpful confusion. I have today written to BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh to convey the frustration of passengers and to urge the airline to engage with the CAA, NATS and the Met Office to ensure there is consistent advice and action across the industry."

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