Chile volcano ash grounds Australia, NZ flights | Inquirer News

Chile volcano ash grounds Australia, NZ flights

/ 08:51 AM June 12, 2011

SYDNEY – Ash from Chile’s volcanic eruptions prompted Australian airline Qantas to ground some domestic flights and travel to and from New Zealand on Sunday, after plumes drifted across the Pacific.

Strong winds have carried the ash some 9,400 kilometers (5,800 miles) across the Pacific to New Zealand since the Chile’s Puyehue volcano erupted more than a week ago.

Qantas Sunday cancelled all flights to and from the southeastern island of Tasmania and services from Sydney and Melbourne to Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington in neighbouring New Zealand, a spokeswoman said.


“At this stage it’s only for today,” she told AFP, adding that so far some 1,500 passengers had been affected.


“We’re monitoring the situation and working closely with the authorities,” she said. The airline is expected to issue an update later Sunday.

Australia’s Jetstar has also grounded more than 20 flights due to leave Sunday for Tasmania and New Zealand, but Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand are flying as normal while monitoring developments.

Air New Zealand has said it will adjust flight routes and altitudes to avoid the plumes which New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority has warned will be at 20,000-30,000 feet, the cruising altitude for both jet and turboprop aircraft.

The authority said New Zealand airspace might be affected for at least a week, given that the volcano was still erupting.

The volcanic eruptions have already prompted the cancellation of several flights across South America.

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TAGS: Chile, Travel

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