Chilean volcano ash cloud causes more air travel chaos Down Under

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Published: June 14, 2011

Air New Zealand 777-200. Photo: By Rob Finlayson.

Australian and New Zealand air travelers endured more disruptions Tuesday as several areas of dense ash from Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle Volcano continued to complicate flight routes (ATW Daily News, June 14).

Qantas and Jetstar continue to cancel all Tasmania and New Zealand flights, and have extended their flight ban to Adelaide in South Australia. However, most other airlines continued to operate by flying under the ash cloud, which is located between 26,000 ft. and 36,000 ft. altitude.

There are two main bodies of ash affecting southeastern Australia and New Zealand, while another large mass of dense ash is approaching the western Australian coast and may blanket Perth by Thursday. The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre advised that jet streams may drag the cloud south of Australia’s southwest corner before sweeping across to the southeast corner.

More than 70,000 domestic and international passengers have been affected by the volcanic ash and meteorologists warned that more travel havoc is on the way with a second ash cloud drifting across southeastern Australia.

Qantas has moved some 747s from its international operations to domestic routes as part of an effort to clear the backlog of stranded passengers.

Airservices Australia said that the impact of the cloud over southeastern Australia would continue for some days. “Volcanic ash which affected flights into Melbourne yesterday has now dissipated,” said a spokesperson Tuesday. “Ash above Tasmania and Adelaide is between 26,000 ft. and 36,000 ft. and is not forecast to move significantly in the next 24 hours.”

It warned that yet another body of ash to the south of Madagascar in the far west Indian Ocean could impact Australian airspace over the next week. Airservices is closely monitoring the progress of ash through Australian airspace with the assistance of the Bureau of Meteorology’s DVAAC.

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