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Lack of air capacity hampers repatriation efforts

Date: 25-Apr-2010

British airspace was reopened on Tuesday but IAS Medical and airlines are still working through the backlog of cancelled flights, with some passengers facing a further week of waiting to return home.

The Association of British Travel Agents said it hoped to have repatriated more than 100,000 passengers by Monday.

However they are struggling in some areas due to a "significant lack of air capacity'.

An estimated 10,000 are stranded in Egypt, 8,000 in India, 9,000 in Florida and 2,500 in Thailand, according to industry figures compiled by the BBC.

The skies over the UK and much of northern Europe were declared a no-fly zone for six days as a result of the ash cloud pouring from an erupting Icelandic volcano.

Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson today criticised the Government for "overreacting" in banning all air traffic and is calling for them to compensate the industry.

His airline is among those appealing to customers who are booked on flights for this weekend to volunteer to give up their seats to stranded passengers.

British Airways is also has asking customers who are booked on long-haul flights up to 2 May to make way for those who were stranded.

BA is now running a full programme of flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports.

"During the weekend we plan extra operations from New York, Newark, Hong Kong, the Maldives, Mumbai and Bangkok and we hope to add more repatriation flights into the schedule in the days ahead.'

Ryanair had full services operating, with the previously-suspended Ireland-UK programme restarting on Friday morning.

The Irish carrier was also operating extra flights from Spain and the Canary Islands.

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