Ash keeps Australia-New Zealand flights on hold

Australian airlines Friday said services to New Zealand would remain grounded for at least another 24 hours, as the ash cloud produced by a volcano in Chile lingered over the region.

All services across the Tasman Sea operated by Qantas and its budget offshoot Jetstar were cancelled for Saturday with the airlines deciding the ash plumes from the Puyehue volcano still made travel too risky.

Virgin said its trans-Tasman flights were cancelled until at least Sunday.

"We continue to assess the situation and will provide further updates on any changes to New Zealand's schedule as soon as possible," Jetstar said in a statement.

Flights in Australia and New Zealand have been troubled for two weeks by the ash clouds, which were spewed by volcanic eruptions on June 4 and have now travelled around the world twice.

Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights, delaying hundreds of thousands of passengers, as they wait for the plume - which is potentially catastrophic to aircraft if they are sucked into jet engines - to clear.

While Australian carriers have taken a conservative approach to the dangers, Air New Zealand has maintained services by flying under and around the ash cloud.

The cloud first entered Australian and New Zealand airspace over a week ago and while the seismic activity in Chile has declined, officials have said there is the possibility of another explosion.

mfc/ajc/jah

 

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