New Zealand flights, travel threatened

2011-06-11 11:19

Wellington - Airlines operating in and out of New Zealand were warned on Saturday that flights could be disrupted as ash from Chile's Puyehue volcano, more than 9 000km away, reaches the country.

Strong winds have carried ash plumes 9 400km across the Pacific to New Zealand since the eruption seven days ago and they were expected to spread across the country over the weekend.

The plumes were expected to be at 6 000 to 9 000m, the cruising levels for both jet and turboprop aircraft, the Civil Aviation Authority said.

New Zealand airspace might be affected for at least a week, given that the volcano was still erupting, it added.

Across South America several flights have been cancelled since the volcano erupted for the first time in half a century.

However, Air New Zealand said it would adjust flight routes and altitudes as required and it did not expect any flights would be grounded.