Air traffic restrictions across France were expected to ease on Wednesday with priority being given to long-haul flights, said French Environment and Transportation Minister Jean-Louis Borloo on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday evening following a ministerial meeting, Borloo said most passengers stranded outside France would be repatriated within 48 hours.
Shortly after the announcement, Air France said it planned to fly all of its long-haul flights on Wednesday.
Borloo’s comments came just 12 hours after France’s largest airports, including those around Paris, gradually resumed flight activity.
“There is no reason to worry,” he said, estimating that France had the largest number of flights affected by Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud.
Around 90 percent of those scheduled to fly on Tuesday were able to, Borloo said, adding that French air travel would return to normal on Wednesday. Air France-KLM expects that 100 percent of its long-haul flights will be ready to go on Wednesday.
Approximately 30 percent of short-haul flights were able to leave on Tuesday, with the goal that 60 percent will be in the air by Wednesday.
Borloo also said that as many as two thirds of the 75,000 travellers stranded abroad who planned their trips with travel agencies will be repatriated to France by midnight on Tuesday.
“We hope for 100 percent in 48 hours,” he continued while specifying that travellers stuck in Egypt, Mali or in Morocco were either in transit or had already touched down on French soil.
“We’re returning to a much more normal system,” Borloo said, nevertheless reiterating that the crisis situation is still completely dependent on the evolution of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and the weather.