Australia-New Zealand travel off due to Chile ash

All Australia`s major carriers cancelled flights to New Zealand for the entire weekend.

Last Updated: Jun 25, 2011, 13:51 PM IST

Sydney: All Australia`s major carriers cancelled flights to New Zealand for the entire weekend as the ash cloud from Chile`s Puyehue volcano lingered in the region.

Qantas and budget airlines Jetstar and Virgin on Saturday said services to and within New Zealand were suspended until at least Monday due to the volcanic ash, which grounded hundreds of flights during the week.

"Volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt Puyehue Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile continues to cause flight disruptions to the Qantas network," Australia`s flag carrier said.
"At Qantas safety is our first priority and a number of flights have been cancelled or re-routed to avoid the volcanic ash cloud."

As well as blanket cancellations between Australia and New Zealand, Qantas said its Buenos Aires services had been delayed by 24 hours and Johannesburg flights were operating via the west coast city of Perth.

Jetstar`s Singapore-New Zealand flights were axed for both weekend days, as well as all trans-Tasman services and all domestic flights within New Zealand.

In addition to its New Zealand-Australia flights, which were cancelled until Tuesday, Virgin canned a number of Pacific routes to Samoa and the Cook Islands.
"The volcanic ash plume has now drifted over New Zealand, resulting in the ongoing suspension of all Pacific Blue services to and from New Zealand," Virgin said.

"We are continuing to monitor the movement of the ash cloud in the region and will advise as soon as possible when regular services will resume."

Flights in Australia and New Zealand have been troubled for two weeks by the Chilean plume, spewed by volcanic eruptions on June 4.

Volcanic ash is potentially catastrophic to aircraft if sucked into jet engines, and Australian carriers have taken a conservative approach to the risk with cancellations and diversions worth tens of millions of dollars daily.

While seismic activity in Chile has declined, officials have said there is the possibility of another explosion.

Bureau Report