US President Barack Obama will leave Ireland early for London tonight Monday to avoid the effects of an ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland, a White House official said in Dublin.
“Due to a recent change in the trajectory in the plume of volcanic ash, Air Force One will depart Ireland for London tonight. The schedule for tomorrow will proceed as planned,” the official was quoted as saying to reporters.
The president was due to start tomorrow his three-day State visit to the UK at the invitation of British Queen Elizabeth.
Meanwhile, flights in Scotland have been cancelled by two airlines as volcanic ash continues to head towards the UK.
Glasgow-based Loganair has cancelled 36 flights on Tuesday, and Eastern Airways cancelled 50, as ministers warned that further disruption was possible.
Analysts expect the ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano to reach Scotland and Northern Ireland by Monday evening.
The event comes a year after ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano spread across Europe, causing huge disruption.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said he hoped to avoid a repeat of last year’s travel chaos, but he admitted it was still unclear how badly flights would be affected.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said there had already been “modest delays” to flights, particularly those crossing the Atlantic, and there could be further disruption later in the week.
“Clearly, this is a natural phenomenon which we cannot control, but the UK is now much better prepared to deal with an ash eruption than last year.”
The CAA said ash levels would be graded as low, medium or high, and airlines would be notified if levels reached medium or high.
Airlines would then consider whether to fly, according to risk assessments already carried out, the CAA added.