Qantas and Jetstar flights from Australia were still grounded
yesterday as the rising Chilean volcanic ash cloud continued
to disrupt the carriers' flight paths.
Jetstar spokesman Gerry Blank said it was the Qantas group's
safety policy never to fly in the vicinity of an ash cloud.
Jetstar cancelled flights in and out of Queenstown, Auckland,
Wellington, Christchurch, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Sydney,
Hobart, Launceston, Adelaide, Darwin and Perth.
Four Queenstown flights were affected: between Auckland and
Queenstown and Christchurch and Queenstown.
Jetstar said it was "exploring every option" to help
thousands of stranded passengers, including putting on extra
flights when it could.
The airline said passengers could defer their travel, fly on
a different route, or get a full refund or travel voucher.
Only one Qantas service to Queenstown has been cancelled
since the cloud descended on Sunday, but Qantas cut services
to and from Adelaide, Tasmania and New Zealand yesterday
while flights to and from Melbourne were operating as
Passengers with bookings on cancelled services would be
contacted and rebooked on alternative flights, Qantas
communications adviser Kira Reed said.
"We will not resume our services to ports affected by the ash
cloud from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano until we're
completely confident that it is safe to do so," she said.
Air New Zealand's domestic and transtasman flights had
continued on schedule to the resort yesterday with monitoring
from the Civil Aviation Authority and Metservice's
Wellington-based Volcanic Ash Advisory ensuring flight paths
In Australia. more than 60,000 passengers have been stranded
by the ash cloud.
Yesterday afternoon, the vast bulk of the cloud was sitting
between 8239m and 11,582m with a small lower pocket hovering
to the south of the South Island, which CAA communications
manager Bill Sommers said was unlikely to cause problems.
Air New Zealand has operated about 1000 flights and carried
more than 50,000 passengers since the ash arrived in national
In order to avoid the ash the airline's domestic services had
been operating up to a maximum 5500m, while transtasman
flights departing Christchurch and Wellington were given new
flight paths heading much further north than normal before
crossing the Tasman.
"The authorities are providing excellent information about
the ash which is at high altitude and very predictable in its
movement. By adjusting cruising altitudes of our aircraft we
are able to continue to safely deliver customers to their
destinations," Air New Zealand airline operations and safety
general manager and chief pilot, Captain David Morgan said.
"Lower cruising altitudes mean we need to burn around 10%
more fuel than normal, but we don't believe that's a reason
to stop flying when there are perfectly safe flight paths
available below the level of the ash," he said.
Air New Zealand would not fly through ash and would continue
to take guidance from CAA and the Metservice "to ensure we
can carry passengers where safe routes and altitudes are
available", Mr Morgan said.
Almost all carriers including Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue,
Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia X, Air Pacific,
Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air
and others were operating international services to and from
New Zealand yesterday.
- Additional reporting by NZPA