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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chile Volcano Ash Cloud Chaos Grounds Flights in Australia


Chilean ash cloud grounds Australian flights again

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 21, 2011

(CNN) -- An ash cloud drifting around the world for a second time after spewing from a Chilean volcano more than two weeks ago is once again grounding commercial jets and stranding thousands of passengers in Australia.
After grounding flights across the country Tuesday, Qantas announced that all scheduled international flights in and out of Sydney and Melbourne were cancelled for Wednesday as well.The cancellations include scheduled trips across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.
The June 4 eruption of Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in the Chilean Andes Mountains forced the shutdown of flights in and out of at least 10 Australian cities Tuesday. The same ash cloud spawned by the fiery South American volcano also forced major flight cancellations Down Under two Sundays ago.
The airlines' decision to ground the flights was based on information provided by the Australian Volcanic Ash Advisory Center.
"The volcano has remained active and as of the 9th of June, the ash plume from the original eruption has travelled across the southern Atlantic Oceans and under Africa to stretch into the Indian Ocean," the advisory center stated. "It is not unprecedented for volcanic ash to remain suspended for long time periods."
Qantas and Virgin suspended flights in and and out of Adelaide, Canberra and Mildura for the entire day Tuesday. The grounding of flights in and out of the southern coast cities of Adelaide and Port Lincoln by Qantas started at 6:30 a.m. local time.
The airlines also suspended scheduled afternoon flights in Sydney, home to the nation's busiest airport. Qantas canceled all domestic flights in and out of Sydney, as well as flights to and from New Zealand, after 3:00 p.m. local time. Qantas also placed several scheduled international flights in Sydney "under review," with the exception of its scheduled 2:15 p.m. Sydney-Singapore flight to London.
"Safety is our first priority and a number of flights have been cancelled or rerouted to avoid the volcanic ash cloud," Qantas stated on its website. "Qantas sincerely regrets the inconvenience caused by these weather conditions and a full fare waiver is in place."
Virgin canceled all service in and out of Sydney, Melbourne and the Tasmanian cities of Hobart and Launceston beginning at 4:00 p.m. local time.
"With a number of major ports ceasing normal operation, Virgin Australia strongly recommends guests re-evaluate their need for travel," the airline stated on its website. "For guests who must travel, we recommend alternatives to air-travel be considered."
Jetstar, Qantas' discount airline canceled all flights in and out of Sydney and Newcastle Tuesday, as well as all scheduled flights between Melbourne and Perth. Tiger Airways, meanwhile, canceled all of its Tuesday flights in Australia.
The eruption of the Chilean volcano sent plumes of smoke more than six miles into the air, filling an otherwise bright blue sky that day with a massive stream of white smoke.
Chile is located on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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