Chile ash disruption spreads west in Australia

Travel chaos from the Chile ash cloud spread to Western Australia on Wednesday with Virgin, Qantas and Jetstar suspending flights into and out of Perth.

Several other international services from the city were also cancelled, including a South African Airlines flight to Johannesburg and Tiger Airways to Singapore.

But as the fallout from the eruption of the Puyehue volcano - high in the Andes - entered a fourth day, there was better news for Adelaide passengers, with Qantas, Jetstar and Tiger resuming flights.

Qantas and Jetstar however again cancelled all routes to New Zealand and the southern island of Tasmania, including Jetstar's Auckland-Singapore flight, as well as to the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires.

Air New Zealand had been flying as normal but late Wednesday halted five domestic services, mostly to and from Dunedin due to "increased volcanic ash activity".

While Qantas has taken a conservative approach to the ash, opting to cancel flights, Virgin has largely chosen to fly around or under the plume with all services to New Zealand and Tasmania operating.

But it is taking no chances with Perth, saying the cloud is now lower, denser, and more dangerous.

"The volcanic ash plume is expected to drift over Perth at an altitude which will prevent aircraft from safely operating," Virgin said in a statement.

"As a result, the Virgin Australia Group of Airlines has suspended all flights into and out of Perth Airport until further notice."

Airservices Australia said the cloud over Western Australia covered a band between 15,000-35,000 feet (4,500-10,500 metres).

"Obviously we're in the hands of the weather gods and wind will be the main determinant of how long the cloud remains over the Perth area and affects traffic," said spokesman Matt Wardell.

Qantas and Jetstar followed Virgin's lead in halting Perth flights.

"Qantas cancelled all services to and from Perth from 1:00pm (0500 GMT) local time," said the airline, on a day it also announced it was scaling back growth plans and cancelling aircraft orders due to slowing domestic demand.

"We will continue to monitor the movement of the ash cloud and assess its impact on flight operations as the situation develops," it added.

Seventeen international carriers fly into Perth and it is up to each one to decide whether they continue, divert or stop flights.

Sally Cutter, from Australia's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, said the lower level of the ash near Perth did pose a risk.

"Volcanic ash makes it dangerous to fly, particularly for jet engines, due to the fact it can cause the engines to stop, so it's really up to each individual airlines to assess the risk they're prepared to take," she told reporters.

The Puyehue eruption has caused disruption to air travel on a scale not seen since the volcanic cloud over Iceland paralysed Europe in 2010.

Flights have also been suspended in Argentina and Uruguay, forcing United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take a boat from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

Chilean government geologists have warned of more intense eruptions from Puyehue in the days ahead.

"It is possible there will be a return to increased eruptive activity", Chile's National Geological and Mines Service said late Tuesday.

mp/mfc/mtp

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy