Volcanic ash cancels Australian flights again

June 20, 2011 3:09:32 AM PDT
Qantas and Virgin Australia plan to cancel flights into and out of the southern city of Adelaide on Tuesday, when an ash cloud from a Chilean volcano is expected to again move into Australian airspace. Some service on a budget carrier between the country's two largest cities was also suspended. Ash from the Cordon Caulle volcano grounded hundreds of flights and stranded tens of thousands of passengers last week when it hovered over several Australian cities and New Zealand. By Friday, all flights were running normally, but the ash has lapped the globe and should soon cause more problems.

On Monday, Virgin Australia and budget carrier Tiger Airways announced they would cancel Tuesday flights to and from the mid-size city of Adelaide. Qantas is canceling Adelaide flights until the afternoon. The airlines also suspended service to some smaller nearby cities.

Tristan King, a meteorologist with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Darwin, Australia, said Monday that if the ash stays on its current course -- and doesn't dissipate -- it could eventually disrupt air traffic in Sydney and Melbourne, the country's two largest cities. Canberra, the capital, could also be affected.

Apparently anticipating the cloud's trajectory, Tiger will ground a handful of flights between Melbourne and Sydney on Tuesday. Several airlines canceled flights into and out of Melbourne last week, causing havoc.

Chile said Sunday that the Cordon Caulle volcano, which began erupting June 4, was becoming less active.


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