Travellers returning from their Easter breaks are expected to be hit hardest this weekend by the travel chaos caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

Although the situation is improving, with flights returning to certain areas in Scotland last night and the further possibility of all Scottish airspace opening from 7pm this evening, the forecast for England remains bad.

The Met Office said northwesterly winds which have driven the cloud from Iceland to the UK and much of northern Europe could last for the next four days.

If that is the case, travel this weekend could be disrupted for thousands of families returning from Easter breaks as their flights home are cancelled.

A Crystal Ski spokeswoman said following concerns that families would want to get home as soon as possible by any means, the operator has arranged to bring back about 2,300 customers currently in the Alps by coach this weekend.

She added: “We believe customers will want to come back quickly by any means rather than hanging around in resort waiting for something to happen.

“Because we reacted quite swiftly yesterday, we’ve got the best coaches and the best ferry times. We know the solution is not ideal but because the event is so unprecedented we are sure customers will understand.”

Erna Low Holidays managing director Jane Bolton added the ski operator’s customers have unaffected by the shutdown as it is a self-drive specialist and both Eurostar and ferry trips are all pre-booked.

She added the 20% of those returning from resort who booked accommodation only and made their own travel arrangements will have to make alternate arrangements themselves although the operator is helping resolve accommodation issues.