Sydney: Australian airlines will resume flights to and from New Zealand from Monday, five days after they were suspended, as volcanic ash plumes from eruptions in Chile finally move away.
Australia's largest carrier Qantas said it would begin flying to and from the New Zealand cities of Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown from early Monday. Flights to Wellington are expected to resume in the afternoon.
Qantas's offshoot Jetstar, which has also cancelled scores of flights due to the ash, said services to New Zealand destinations, except to and from Wellington, would be normal from Monday.
Virgin Australia said its Pacific Blue flights across the Tasman would restart from Monday, adding it was targeting 10:00 am for the resumption of services to and from Wellington.
Forecasters said the bulk of the ash from Chile's Puyehue volcano, which returned to disrupt air travel in the region for a second time after looping the globe, was now mostly south of Australia and dispersing.
"There is nothing coming here (Australia), there is some ash cloud moving into New Zealand," said Gabriel Branescu, a meteorologist at the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin.
But he said most of the ash, which it is feared could cause catastrophic damage to jet engines if sucked inside, had moved deeper south.
Qantas was unable to say how many passengers had been affected since it suspended flights to New Zealand on Wednesday, just days after domestic travel to major cities including Sydney and Melbourne was disrupted by the ash.
"It would be significant disruptions being out for the last couple of days," a spokeswoman for the airline said of the New Zealand groundings.
The Puyehue volcano high in the Andes erupted on June 04, spewing a massive ash cloud which has also cancelled flights in South America.
Chilean geologists have voiced fears that the volcano, which rumbled to life early this month for the first time since 1960, could explode again.
First Published: Sunday, June 26, 2011, 14:46