Chile Volcano Ash Disrupts Travel in Australia and New Zealand, Flights Slowly Resume
The Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano, which erupted last week, sent an ash cloud into New Zealand and Australian airspace, forcing flight cancellations.
Some 200 flights were cancelled, affecting approximately 60,000 travelers, mostly in Australia, reports Reuters. That's including those affected in South America.
However, the cloud moved higher in the atmosphere Monday, prompting carriers to resume limited service.
According to New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority, the cloud moved from its previous location at 20,000 feet to 27,000 feet.
Qantas Airways and Jetstar began running flights into and out of Melbourne, but is still not flying to New Zealand or other domestic routes. Virgin Australia also resumed service on Monday.
Air New Zealand had kept up its flights despite the ash cloud, choosing to fly at the low altitude of 18,000 feet.
"We will not fly through ash and are constantly taking guidance from CAA to ensure we can continue to carry passengers only where safe routes and altitudes are available," Air NZ chief pilot David Morgan told Reuters.
According to CNN, it is up to the airlines and not civil authorities whether or not to fly. Airservices Australia advises the airlines on the location of the ash cloud, so that they can make their own decisions.
But, flying at a low altitude like Air New Zealand is not regarded as economical as it drives up fuel consumption. The most fuel-efficient cruising altitude is 29,000 feet, says CNN.
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