Australian flights resume as ash shifts

2011-06-17 08:45

Sydney - Australian airlines that grounded flights to New Zealand because of a volcanic ash cloud over the past week began flying to the island nation again on Friday.

Not all flights were back on as Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia struggled to get aircraft into position and monitor cities where ash was still hanging in the air.

Ash spewing from a Chilean volcano has thrown air travel into disarray since Sunday, when airlines began cancelling flights within Australia and New Zealand and between the countries. Tens of thousands of passengers were affected, and many grew particularly frustrated because of airlines' differing policies on flying when there is an ash cloud.

Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand chose to fly under or around the cloud when they could. As a result, Air New Zealand maintained service between Australia and New Zealand, though some domestic flights were grounded.

Qantas and Jetstar, on the other hand, said they never fly around ash and cancelled hundreds of flights, sometimes into and out of major airports, including Melbourne, Australia's second-largest.

Australia's domestic service returned to normal on Thursday, and most flights to, from and within New Zealand resumed on Friday. Some early morning flights, however, were cancelled, and service to New Zealand's South Island, in particular, continued to be affected.

Predictions from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre showed ash clouds on Friday should move well south of the Australian continent and push out to the Pacific east of New Zealand.

- SAPA

Read more on:    qantas  |  new zealand  |  australia  |  air travel  |  volcanoes
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