, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – Kenya Airways was on Saturday forced to cancel nine flights between Nairobi, London, Paris and Amsterdam following the continued closure of airports in Europe.
Managing Director Titus Naikuni pleaded with booked travelers not to go to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as that would congest the lounges.
"The airline is requesting the affected customers to be patient as the airline operations will not be at 100 percent once the situation returns to normal due to the backlog and operational constraints including but not limited to aircraft, airport parking slots and crew challenges arising from the cancellations," he said.
The affected flights were 17 Apr KQ101 – London to Nairobi, 17 Apr KQ102 – Nairobi to London, 17 Apr KQ103 – London to Nairobi, 17 Apr KQ104 – Nairobi to London, 17 Apr KQ112 – Nairobi to Paris, 17 Apr KQ116 – Nairobi to Amsterdam, 17 Apr KQ117 – Amsterdam to Nairobi, 18 Apr KQ103 – London to Nairobi and 18 Apr KQ113 – Paris to Nairobi.
"A further update will be provided at 9:00 AM Sunday morning and will also be posted on our website; www.kenya-airways.com," said Mr Naikuni.
Millions of people faced worsening travel chaos Saturday as a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, which risks lingering over Europe for up to five more days, forced countries to extend flight bans.
France decided to shut the three airports in the Paris area and others in the north of the country until 8:00 am (0600 GMT) on Monday due to the ash cloud that has caused the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II.
Britain, Denmark and Germany officially lengthened bans on most flights in their airspace until 0000 GMT Sunday.
However British Airways said it had decided to cancel all of its Sunday short-haul flights to and from London\’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
Scandinavian airline SAS added that all its flights in the region would be grounded until after the weekend with the exception of a handful of domestic flights in northern Norway.
Winds blowing the massive cloud eastward from Iceland to Russia will continue in the same direction for at least two days and could go on until the middle of next week, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Saturday.
"The ash will continue to be directed towards Britain and Scandinavia," Teitur Arason, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told AFP.
"That\’s the general situation for the coming days … more or less for the next two days or maybe the next four or five days," he said.
Ireland reimposed flight bans over its airspace until at least 1700 GMT on Saturday, while Austria, Belgium and Switzerland said they would allow no flights until 1800 GMT.
Poland said it was shutting its airspace "until further notice".
The closure of Poland\’s airspace has thrown into doubt the attendance of world leaders including US President Barack Obama, due in the southern city of Krakow on Sunday for the funeral of president Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria.
The Kaczynski couple were among 96 people, most of them Polish dignitaries, killed in a plane crash in Russia last Saturday on their way to a World War II memorial service.
Some 16,000 flights in European airspace on Saturday have been cancelled due to the cloud of volcanic ash, said Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic control in 38 nations.
Whereas a normal Saturday would see 22,000 flights in Europe, Eurocontrol said only about 6,000 would be operating — and out of a routine 300-odd incoming transatlantic flights, a mere 73 had so far arrived.
The drifting dust had already forced the cancellation of about 16,000 flights on Friday.
The volcano on the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted on Wednesday, sending ash drifting towards Europe at an altitude of about eight to 10 kilometres (five to six miles).
British weather forecast service the Met Office indicated that "the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland was moving around and changing shape," Britain\’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said in a statement.
NATS added that "restrictions currently in place across UK controlled airspace will remain in place until at least 0100 UK time tomorrow."
Europe\’s three biggest airports — Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt — were closed Saturday, leaving passengers stranded across the world as a global flight backlog built up.