Stansted Re-Opens

22 April 2010, 05:41 | Updated: 22 April 2010, 05:46

After almost a week of no flights, Stansted airport has re-opened, after the restrictions on UK airspace were lifted.

However, Heart has been told it won't be back to normal until Friday at the earliest.

It's estimated hundreds of thousands of passengers are still stranded abroad after a shutdown thought to have cost the industry about £130 million a day.

Around 450 flights would normally be handled each day at Stansted airport in Essex, where many services, including all Ryanair flights, have been cancelled.

The first departing aircraft today (Wednesay) was an easyJet flight to Prague which left Stansted at 6.45am.

The first arrival was an easyJet service from Belfast, which touched down around 7am.

Stansted Airport officials said two charter flights arrived from Lanzarote late on Tuesday, carrying 370 people in total.

A spokesman said easyJet was operating a service and flights were leaving but Ryanair would not operate until Thursday. He said the airport was not expected to be operating normally until Friday or Saturday.

Families arrived back at the airport on Wednesday after an extended holiday in Tenerife.

Holidaymakers said they should have returned last week from Thomas Cook breaks but few had any complaints.

One said: "Thomas Cook were fantastic. We stayed at the hotel - we're not out of pocket. The only problem was the uncertainty. Then we got a call out of the blue at one (1am) this morning saying we're were going. I'm just looking forward to having a cup of tea. You can't really have a proper cup of tea unless you're in Britain or Ireland.''

Officials said travellers should check with airlines before making their way to the airport. The spokesman said dozens of people had slept on camp beds at the airport since flying stopped. He said as many as 100 had been stranded and that number had dropped to around 30 on Tuesday night.

An easyJet spokesman said it would take "several days'' to get services back to normal. "Following the re-opening of airspace across the UK and Europe, easyJet plans to resume some services across the UK and Continental Europe from Wednesday morning,'' he said.

David Johnston, managing director of Stansted Airport, said "I am sure there will be a post-mortem after the event and  lessons to be learned on all sides,'' he said. "There has been political pressure... I think we need to fully understand what
the future rules would be.''

Click here to visit the Stansted Airport website, which contains the latest advice for passengers.