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Iceland volcanic ash cancels UK flights

LONDON -- A dense ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano blew toward Scotland yesterday, causing airlines to cancel flights, forcing President Barack Obama to shorten a visit to Ireland, and raising fears of a repeat of last year's huge travel disruptions in Europe that stranded millions of passengers.

The British Civil Aviation Authority said it appears that ash from the Grimsvotn volcano could reach Scottish airspace early today and affect other parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland later in the week.

British Airways suspended all its flights for this morning between London and Scotland. Dutch carrier KLM and Easyjet canceled flights to and from Scotland and northern England at the same time. Two domestic airlines also announced flight disruptions.

Still, authorities say they don't expect the kind of massive grounding of flights that followed last year's eruption of the Eyjafjallajo-kull volcano in Iceland because systems and procedures have been improved since then and the cloud is currently not expected to move over continental Europe.

Pilots unions, however, expressed concerns that the ash could still be dangerous.-- AP

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