UPDATE: Officials say the Iceland volcano has strengthened - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Officials say the Iceland volcano eruption has strengthened

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LONDON (AP) -- It's not what airlines, businesses and stranded travelers want to hear about the Icelandic volcano that has ruined international travel for days.

The British National Air Traffic Service says the eruption has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading toward Britain.

The service said airspace over some parts of England may be reopened Tuesday afternoon but that the open zone for flights may not extend as far south as London. That's where the country's main airports are located.

It also indicated that Scotland's airports and airspace can reopen as planned Tuesday morning but the situation in Northern Ireland is uncertain.

Europe's aviation industry, which faces losses of more than $1 billion, has criticized official handling of the disruption that grounded thousands of flights to and from the continent.

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PARIS (AP) -- European transport officials have carved up the sky, creating three zones to break the flight deadlock caused by a cloud of volcanic ash flowing from Iceland over Europe.

France said Monday that European countries can resume airline traffic in designated "caution zones" where the threat of ash is considered less dangerous.

Under the accord, one area -- defined by the European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol -- will remain entirely off limits to flights. Another area will be open to all flights and a third area will be a caution zone in which some flights will be allowed.

Jean-Louis Borloo, the No. 2 French Cabinet official, says flights in the caution zone will be "very secure" with many tests on engines.

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BERLIN (AP) -- The skies may become more inviting for hundreds of thousands of air travelers stranded around the globe by a large volcanic ash cloud over Europe.

Meteorologists in Iceland say eruptions from the volcano are weakening, and the ash is no longer rising to a height where it will endanger large commercial aircraft.

Many of Europe's biggest airports have been shut down for days and thousands of flights have been canceled.

Germany's aviation authority is breaking the flight deadlock, granting an exception for Lufthansa to fly 50 long-haul planes carrying about 15,000 passengers back home using visual flight rules.

Also, Britain says flight restrictions over Scottish airspace will be lifted tomorrow morning and other British airports could reopen later in the day as well.

Nevertheless, air traffic control officials say fewer than one-third of flights in Europe are taking off today, mostly in southern Europe where airports are open.

The shutdown is costing the airline industry at least $200 million a day -- and by some estimates up to $300 million a day.

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VIENNA (AP) -- Flying into and out of Europe continues to be difficult if not impossible due to volcanic ash wafting its way across the continent from Iceland.

Stranded travelers are trying everything.

Madrid has become a major hub. Spain remains one of the few European countries unaffected by the ash cloud.

Across Europe, travelers are finding prices skyrocketing as they try to rent cars to drive to airports where they might be able to get flights home. But legions of other travelers are simply stranded.

At Frankfurt Airport, an airport spokesman says almost 500 passengers -- most from Africa or Asia with no visas for the EU -- are spending their fourth day in a transit area.

Stranded Europeans trying to get home are also having problems.

At South Korea's Incheon International Airport, frustrated passengers blocked a Korean Air ticketing counter and demanded a meeting with company officials to arrange travel to anywhere in Europe.

Meanwhile, Germany's aviation authority has granted Lufthansa permission to fly 50 planes back to Germany with about 15,000 passengers aboard.

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BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's aviation authority says it has granted Lufthansa permission to fly 50 planes back to Germany with about 15,000 passengers aboard.

Spokeswoman Cornelia Cramer said Monday that other airlines such as Air Berlin also have sought similar permission.

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LONDON (AP) -- Most airports in Europe are closed for a fifth day today because of the ash that continues to rise from a volcano in Iceland.

An air traffic agency in Brussels says fewer than one-third of flights in Europe are taking off today.

In Spain, though, all airports are open -- and the country is offering to become the new hub of Europe to get stranded passengers moving again.

Airlines are pressing for restrictions to be lifted. Several airlines safely tested the skies with flights that didn't carry any passengers over the weekend. And the chief executive of British Airways says it proves that the sweeping flight restrictions are "unnecessary."

Britain said it was keeping flight restrictions on through early tomorrow, while Italy briefly lifted restrictions in the north then quickly closed down again after conditions worsened Monday.

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LONDON (AP) -- Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Britain is sending Royal Navy warships to rescue Britons stranded by the volcanic ash cloud.

Brown says the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean will be sent across the English Channel. A third ship may also be deployed.

He says Britain is speaking with Spanish authorities to see whether Britons stranded overseas could be flown there and then taken home by boat or bus.

Air space in countries including Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands -- home to Europe's largest airports -- have been closed for days, stranding millions of people.

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VIENNA (AP) -- Austrian authorities have reopened the country's airspace after volcanic ash forced its closure.

The Austria Press Agency reports that permission to resume takeoffs and landings took effect at 5 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) Monday but says it is unclear if the airspace will remain open all day.

Airport Web sites indicate that many flights remain canceled.

Austro Control, the country's national aviation authority, first imposed a flight ban on Friday as a cloud of ash spewed by an Icelandic volcano moved eastward and caused chaos for travelers across much of Europe.

The European Union said Sunday if weather forecasts confirm the skies over Europe are clearing, air traffic over the continent could return to about 50 percent of normal levels on Monday.

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AMSTERDAM (AP) -- The shutdowns on air travel imposed after an volcano in Iceland began erupting last week have stranded millions of travelers and are costing the aviation industry at least $200 million a day.

The International Air Transport Association offers that estimate and the European Union transport commissioner said that "it is clear that this is not sustainable" and it won't be feasible to "just wait until this ash cloud dissipates."

The EU predicts European air traffic could return to about 50 percent of normal levels Monday if weather forecasts confirm that skies over half the continent are emptying of the volcanic ash that has thrown global travel into chaos

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