Volcanic Ash Grounds Air Travel In United Kingdom and Europe; Some WNY Students Stranded

September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 17, 2010 at 10:14 AM EDT

By WKBW Programming


Volcanic Ash Grounds Air Travel In United Kingdom and Europe; Some WNY Students Stranded

September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 17, 2010 at 10:14 AM EDT

London, England (CNN/ABC News.com) -- About 16,000 flights are expected to be canceled in European airspace Saturday because of the cloud of ash from the Icelandic volcano, European air traffic authorities said Saturday.

While no airports are closed in the United States due to the ash, thousands of travelers can not make their journey overseas. Some of those who are stuck include Alexis Targus of Buffalo. Lisa Stark and her crew from ABC News caught up with Alexis and her high school group that were looking to make a trip to France. Kate Broderick-Cerrone from the group said that the volcanic eruption was not in their plans. Other students from Barker, N.Y. were actually trying to fly overseas when their plane had to be re-routed and return due to the volcanic ash.

To watch Lisa Stark's complete report, go to "News Links" at wkbw.com

Eurocontrol said it expected about 6,000 flights to take off Saturday, compared with the normal 22,000.

On Friday about 10,400 flights took place in Europe, compared with the normal 29,000 -- meaning more than 18,000 flights were canceled for the day.

Twenty-thee European countries were prohibiting takeoffs and landings Saturday, according to Eurocontrol and local authorities. Some of those countries kept their airspace open, but it may be difficult to access it because in most cases, the surrounding area is not available for flights, Eurocontrol said.

Airlines including Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Ryanair and Qantas announced restrictions to their schedules in Europe because of the ash, which experts have said can stall engines and cause electrical failures on board aircraft.

Forecasts suggest the cloud of ash will persist and that the impact will continue for at least the next 24 hours, Eurocontrol said Saturday morning.

Planes can not fly into the ash cloud because it will choke engines and shut them down.

The measures were choking international travel and stranding thousands of passengers across the globe.

It was a chaotic scene Saturday morning at London's Heathrow airport. At Terminal 3, which serves long-distance destinations like New York, South Africa and Washington, passengers complained they were getting no proper communication from their airlines.

For travelers stranded in the United States, airlines here are not required by law to help passengers with lodging or food because the delays are being caused by an "act of nature."

Eyewitness News, ABC News, and CNN will continue to monitor the problem of the volcanic ash, and the impact it is having on air travel - including families impacted here in Western New York.