Qantas, Virgin Resumes Some Services After Volcanic Ash Clouds Disperse

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN), Australia’s largest carrier, will pare services for a third day tomorrow because of volcanic ash blown across the country from an eruption in Chile.

The main Qantas unit and budget arm Jetstar will halt all Tasmania flights through 10 a.m. and all New Zealand services until noon, pending reviews, according to statements on their website and Twitter feeds today. The carriers also halted Adelaide services from 8:50 p.m. today after resuming Melbourne flights earlier in the day.

“The waves of ash will continue to be a problem more or less while the volcano is active,” Peter Lechner, a New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority meteorological manager, said in an e- mail. “Once the volcano ceases, there will still be about six days of ash plume to move around the globe.”

Virgin Australia, the nation’s second-biggest carrier, also pared flights today because of the ash cloud and an earthquake in Christchurch. The ash from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex in southern Chile has grounded flights across South America and Australia, adding to disruptions suffered by airlines in Europe this year because of a volcano in Iceland.

Air New Zealand Ltd. (AIR), the country’s state-controlled carrier, has so far avoided canceling flights because of the ash cloud. That has involved returning services, sometimes boosting fuel usage by as much as 10 percent, according to a statement on its website.

‘Lot of Effort’

“It would have been far easier to simply cancel flights,” David Morgan, the carrier’s chief pilot and general manager for operations and safety, said in the statement. “It’s taken a lot of effort by our operations teams to develop alternative flight plans.”

Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd. (TGR)’s Australian unit resumed most flights from 5 p.m. today, according to a statement on its website. It canceled two Adelaide services scheduled for early tomorrow.

Last month, ash from Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano forced flights cancellations in Scotland, northern England and Germany. In April, 2010, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, also in Iceland, caused the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights amid concern that glass-like particles formed from lava might melt in aircraft engines and clog turbines.

“The effect on plane engines can be drastic,” John Murray, senior research fellow at the Open University’s Department of Earth Sciences said in an e-mail. Previous incidents have blocked all four engines on jetliner or caused so much damage to windscreens that pilots were unable to see anything ahead of them, he said.

The eruption from Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex prompted airlines to scrap more than 300 scheduled flights to and from the two international airports in Buenos Aires, Argentina, according to a June 9 statement from operator Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 SA. The system previously had major eruptions in 1921-22 and 1960, according to the Washington-based Smithsonian Institution.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at

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