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Europe creates smaller volcanic ash no-fly zones

France and Britain plan to open some airports Tuesday morning. European officials announced the creation of narrow flight corridors, shrinking the size of no-fly zones due to volcanic ash.

By David ScottStaff writer / April 19, 2010

An airplane lands after the airspace was reopened to flights at England's Manchester Airport Tuesday.

Phil Noble/Reuters

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Amid rising complaints over the closure of airports due to volcanic ash clouds, European officials will narrow their definitions of no-fly zones starting early Tuesday.

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"On a national and European level, we have decided to move step by step toward a normalization, within the framework of strict security requirements," German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer told N24 television.

A European Union (EU) diplomat said earlier that there seemed to be a consensus around creating new zones with a smaller no-fly zone near to the volcano, and a wider zone where flights would be subject to safety restrictions and checks, but no ban, according to Reuters.

IN PICTURES: Iceland volcano

Individual governments were reportedly making decisions to open up more airports around Europe. France says it will allow flights between Paris and cities in southern France, while "partially reopening" some airports in northern France, according to Agence France-Press.

With flights canceled for a fifth day, government officials are responding to complaints from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a group which represents most of the world’s airlines, that flight safety authorities were being too cautious.

In the United Kingdom, similar signs of easing were announced Monday.

The BBC minute by minute blog on the volcanic crisis reports Manchester Airport and Newcastle International Airport officials say they plan to reopen on a limited flight schedule Tuesday morning. Simliarly, Northern Ireland airspace will reopen at 7 a.m. local time, as will mainland airports in Scotland.

Germany's aviation authority also granted Lufthansa permission to make 50 passenger flights back to Germany, says the BBC.

But will the volcano in Iceland cooperate with these plans? A spokesman for the British national weather service, the Met Office, told the BBC that the eruptions had increased in the past couple of hours, spewing ash up to an altitude of 10,000 feet. Earlier in the day, the eruptions had subsided.

IN PICTURES: Iceland volcano

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