European flights, grounded for days by a volcanic ash cloud, are beginning to take off again, but the situation remains chaotic. Paris airports were opened to limited air traffic Tuesday.
Air France has announced transatlantic flights from the two Paris-area airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, and limited domestic and European service. The French government has said flight service would return very progressively to normal.
But on the ground at Charles de Gaulle, Tuesday morning, reporters reported a chaotic situation, with Air France counters flooded with distraught passengers and almost no flights appearing on the schedule boards.
The first foreign flight that came in Tuesday morning was from Abidjan. Jean, a passenger on board, told French radio it originally had been scheduled to land in Nice.
Jean said he hoped to figure out a way to get to Nice from Paris. But he was not confident he would be leaving the Paris airport any time soon.
Neighboring Switzerland and Italy also opened their air space on Tuesday and a few flights left Amsterdam and Frankfurt the evening before. But British Airways canceled short-haul flights in Britain after warnings of a new volcanic ash cloud from Iceland. Britain is sending three navy ships to bring its citizens home from continental Europe.
On Monday, European Union transport ministers agreed to split the European air space into three zones, ranging from fully open to fully closed, depending on the movement of the ash.
European Commissioner Siim Kallas says, based on the latest forecasts, about half of EU territory would be affected by the ash cloud on Tuesday.
"From this perspective, half of the flights [will be] operating in Europe [on Tuesday]. But there will be a difficult, complex situation, and for that reason it's so necessary to coordinate European efforts," said Kallas.
For its part, NATO reported two of its fighter planes suffered engine damage, Monday, after flying through an ash cloud.
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