UK airspace could close from tomorrow until Tuesday because of the volcanic ash cloud, the Department for Transport has warned.

Both Heathrow and Gatwick airports are likely to experience grounded flights and delays until Tuesday, it said.

“Within this timeframe, different parts of UK airspace – including airspace in the South East – are likely to be closed at different times,” it said in a statement.

However the new transport secretary Philip Hammond stressed the situation was “fluid” and forecasts were subject to change.

He added: “The Government is carefully monitoring this situation and the safety of passengers will remain our paramount concern.”

The warning came as the DoT revealed details of a new a five-day ash prediction chart, available on the Met Office website, which replaces the previous 18 hour forecasts.

The National Air Traffic Services, the UK’s air traffic services provider, will announce any airspace restrictions if they become necessary and passengers are advised to check with their airlines before travelling to the airport