But British air traffic controllers warned a new ash cloud was headed for major air routes, though plans to reopen airports in Scotland remained in place for 7:00 a.m.
Others in northern England were to follow later, though there were no plans to reopen London’s international hubs.
Details remained sketchy of how the authorities would split European airspace into areas where aircraft could fly or not and other countries were adopting a more cautious approach.
“The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new as cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK,” NATS, the National Air Traffic Services, said in an overnight statement.
“This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working.”
EU Transport Commission Siim Kallas said on Monday, after a ministerial video conference, that more flights would leave on Monday, easing days of disruption for millions of passengers. A handful of flights left Amsterdam and Frankfurt late on Monday.
The deal offered hope to frustrated airlines losing $250 million (163 million pound) a day from the shutdown and seeing their shares tumble. The global freight supply chain is also beginning to sag.
“I’m so happy,” said one man with tears in his eyes as he ran for his flight from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Monday, one of three bound for New York, Shanghai and Dubai with almost 800 passengers on board.
Dutch Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings promised that the Netherlands was “taking a lead” in getting Europe moving, but said its airspace could be closed again if ash levels rose.
Neighbouring Germany will mostly maintain its no-fly zone until 1200 GMT.
SOME AREAS OPEN TO FLIGHTS
Under the deal, which Kallas said would take effect from 0600 GMT, the area immediately around the volcano will remain closed.
But flights may be permitted in a wider zone with a lower concentration of ash, subject to local assessments and scientific advice, the European aviation control agency Eurocontrol said.
Airlines had declared numerous test flights problem-free over the past days, but experts disagree over how to measure the ash and who should decide it is safe to fly. A British Airways jet lost power in all four engines after flying through an ash cloud above the Indian Ocean in 1982.
France said it was reopening some airports to create air corridors to Paris. Italian airspace will open from 0600 GMT.
Eurocontrol said it expected up to 9,000 flights to have operated in Europe on Monday, a third of normal volume. Reuters