Airports Across Europe Begin Reopening Wednesday

Air travel in Europe took halting steps toward recovery Tuesday. But a new cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland began drifting east, threatening further flight delays, and officials said it might be weeks before all stranded travelers could be brought home.

Travelers cheered as the first flights took off, across northern Europe, in Paris, Amsterdam and other hubs. Europe's busiest airport, London's Heathrow, remained closed for most of the day but reopened late Tuesday, with a jetliner from Vancouver, British Columbia, the first to land.

The continentwide aviation agency Eurocontrol said it expected 13,000 flights through European airspace Tuesday, which would be the most since Friday. The usual daily traffic load is about 28,000 flights, Dallas Morning News reports.

Sweden and Helsinki were under restrictions, but Eurocontrol said it expected those measures to be lifted during Wednesday. All European airspace above 20,000 feet was open at 0900 GMT, it said.

The organisation said that by the end of Wednesday it expected that a total of more than 100,000 flights would have been cancelled since April 15 when the cloud of volcanic ash first spread across northern Europe, Independent says.