Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chilean volcano eruption stops OZ air traffic

Huge plumes of upper atmospheric volcanic dust have drifted across the Pacific Ocean grounding air flights in Australia and new Zealand on the Queen's Birthday long weekend, stranding thousands of air travellers.

Chile's Puyehue volcano
Air terminals in Sydney and Melbourne and in New Zealand are virtually deserted as airlines shut down flights. What few flights that are getting off the ground are flying at less than 20,000 feet to avoid the volcanic ash.

Qantas and Jetstar have grounded flights between Tasmania and Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast. The airlines have cancelled their flights between Australia and New Zealand and Jetstar's domestic flights within New Zealand. A flight to Nadi in Fiji has also been grounded.

Strong winds have carried the ash some 9,400 kilometres across the Pacific since Chile's Puyehue volcano erupted more than a week ago.

Passengers at Hobart Airport have told the ABC they may have to wait several days for another flight.


LindaG said...

Wow. It was understandable when the Iceland and Greenland volcano shut down Europe, I mean they're right next door, really.

Just seems weird that the Chile volcano could shut down Australia. But I guess that's the way the wind takes it.

Stay safe!

Al said...

Must be one big ash cloud to be having an effect all the way over this side of the Pacific!

John Gray said...

now john
its a funny thing but I have just been pricing flights from melborne to sydney today ( I may be able to accompany chris to oz for a conference)

is it me but did planes get grounded a decade ago? or are we seeing more volcanic activity?

answers on a postcard please!!!

JohnD said...

JohnG - Dust from outback Australia shut down Melbourne Airport a decade or so ago. More recently an Indonesian volcanic eruption shut dow Oz flights to Asia.

Linda and Al - Yes! Ash is being driven by high altitude air currents that move at a very fast clip and Yes! It is a BIG cloud.