Travellers finally arriving home as Britain's skies reopened are facing fresh frustration after a major budget airline vowed to defy EU compensation rules.
Amid recriminations about the Government's handling of the crisis, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary sparked fury by saying he would only reimburse travellers the original price of their air fare and no more.
Mike Carrivick, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives which represents more than 90 airlines, also said the EU regulations were "unfair" and were never intended to cover cases such as the ash cloud crisis.
UK airports were resuming near full service this morning after a leading holiday company chief said the Government's response to the crisis had been "a shambles", while Conservative leader David Cameron accused ministers of "muddle and confusion".
With some airports remaining largely empty on Wednesday, air traffic control company Nats said flights operated yesterday at "approximately 80% of normal traffic levels".
But the spokeswoman added that "a volume of traffic approaching 90%" was expected from 7am on Thursday.
With the cost of the shutdowns likely to run into billions of pounds and with an estimated 150,000 stranded Britons to be repatriated, there was mounting criticism of the way events had unfurled.
There was also criticism from airlines about the EU regulation which requires EU carriers to cover stranded passengers' reasonable expenses.
Those still stranded abroad were coping as best they could, with Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant admitting that it was "phenomenally complicated and difficult" getting everyone home.
Speaking in Madrid to where Britons were being urged to take coaches home, Mr Bryant said: "Most of the airlines have been exemplary. But many people feel badly let down by Ryanair for failing to let them know whether they are getting on a flight or not."