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'Beyond a joke': Branson's fury as UK airports close AGAIN after wind blows ash south from Iceland volcano


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UK Daily Mail:

Sir Richard Branson branded new airport closures in the UK 'beyond a joke' today as scores of flights were cancelled due to fresh fears about volcanic ash from Iceland.

The Virgin boss hit out at the move to close airports in Northern Ireland, northern England and the Midlands as a new 'high density' cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano approached.

New restrictions started this morning and are expected to hit Britain's busiest airports in the South over the next three days. Birmingham and Norwich were added to the no-fly zone this evening.

Sir Richard called on the Government to intervene as he insisted jets should still be allowed to fly.

'The closing of Manchester airspace once again is beyond a joke,' he said. 'All the test flights by airlines, aircraft and engine manufacturers have shown no evidence that airlines could not continue to fly completely safety.

'It is obviously dangerous to fly through the mouth of a volcano as has been demonstrated time and time again on television by what happened to the BA plane. However the volcano is hundreds of miles away from the UK.

'Over a thousand flights took off from France last week in similar conditions to that which exist in Manchester today without encountering any problems or showing any levels of ash concentration.
'We need strong leadership to intervene to avoid doing further unnecessary damage to the UK economy and lives of travellers.'
His attack sparked a furious response from the Civil Aviation Authority, who pointed out that every airline including Virgin had agreed the strategy in a meeting on Friday.

A spokesman said: 'They all agreed the way forward including his airline. We can't just say "It'll be all right, off you go".
'They have got to work out what their engines can handle. The way they do that is for the airlines and manufacturers to work together. The ball is in his and his engine manufacturer's court.'

The spokesman stressed that everyone was working together to find a way to raise the ash levels at which it was felt planes were safe to fly.

'We can't just say 'fly' without the engine manufacturers saying their engines can take the additional level of ash,' he added.

The volcano doesn't care how much money you have, Sir Richard-or, in this case, how much you're probably losing.
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