500 scheduled flights were expected to be canceled Tuesday due to clouds of volcanic ash drifting toward the Continent, Europe’s air-traffic management agency said, amid fears that the disruption could spread.

Weather forecasters at the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in London on Tuesday repeated warnings that there was a risk that some ash clouds may reach parts of northern Europe in the next 48 hours. Iceland and Scotland already are affected.

Dublin, Ireland-based Ryanair Holdings PLC, a stern critic of the handling of last year’s ash cloud crisis, challenged the restrictions, calling on air-traffic controllers to reopen airspace over Scotland after it operated a one-hour verification flight up to 41,000 feet in Scottish airspace.

“There was no visible volcanic ash cloud or any other presence of volcanic ash and the post-flight inspection revealed no evidence of volcanic ash on the airframe, wings or engines,” it said in a statement.

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