Saudi Arabian Airlines suspends US flights due to volcanic ash over Atlantic

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RIYADH — Saudi Airlines said on Monday it had halted flights between the United States and Saudi Arabia because of the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland over the Atlantic.

The state carrier’s assistant director general, Abdullah al-Ajhar, said the airline wanted to preserve passenger safety in cancelling its twice-weekly direct Washington-Riyadh and New York-Jeddah services.

Some transatlantic flights between Europe and North America were also being delayed and rerouted because of the ash cloud from the volcano.

Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano erupted on April 14 and caused travel chaos worldwide, with airspace closed over many European countries for a week over fears the ash would damage aircraft engines with fatal results.

It was the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled affecting some eight million passengers. The airline industry said it lost about 2.5 billion euros (3.2 billion dollars).

The volcano began fresh and intensive ash eruptions overnight on Thursday, forcing the cancellation of hundreds more flights in Europe.