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Volcanic ash cloud: Where is it now - May 18?

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The UK air traffic control company NATS said, on its website, it was "delighted that restrictions on UK airspace can today be eased," which meant there were "no predicted restrictions on UK airspace in the immediate future."

“There is mounting evidence that aircraft can fly safely through areas of medium density, provided some additional precautions are taken. This is now what has been agreed,” NATS Chief Executive Officer Richard Deakin said the statement. NATS is the now privatized national air traffic control service formerly run by the British government.

MET under fire

The ash cloud's dissipation and the smaller no-fly zone allowed airports in Britain to return to normal operations Tuesday, but finger-pointing has now risen over the accuracy of weekend forecasts from the British Met Office that caused the CAA to impose a six-hour, no-fly zone over southern Britain early Monday, causing the cancellation of 200 flights at Heathrow, 88 at Gatwick, and 40 at Liverpool airport.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, said the ash cloud simply “did not exist” over London on Monday. Virgin Atlantic head Sir Richard Branson said the MET had made "crass, stupid decisions." The CAA also criticized the Met Office, saying the agency had forecast "something which was not subsequently backed up.”

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