Qantas Airways Ltd. canceled Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand flights tomorrow because of a cloud of volcanic ash that stranded at least 40,000 travelers across Australia today.
Domestic flights from Sydney have been canceled through 2 p.m. tomorrow, Qantas said in a statement. Melbourne services will be halted from 9 p.m. until 11 a.m. New Zealand routes will be closed from 7 a.m. until further notice.
“We do expect upcoming delays over the next 24 to 48 hours,” Olivia Wirth, a spokeswoman, said in a televised media conference from Canberra. “This will have a knock-on effect to the rest of the network.”
Ash from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex in southern Chile today forced Qantas and Virgin Australia to cancel more than 370 flights, including services on the Sydney-Melbourne route, the world’s third busiest. The ash has hampered flights in Australia, New Zealand and South America since an eruption on June 4 because of concerns it may clog jet engines.
Virgin Australia, the nation’s second-biggest carrier, will suspend Melbourne services tomorrow until 1 p.m., and Sydney and Canberra flights until 4 p.m., it said in a statement.
Qantas plans to resume Canberra flights at 11 a.m. tomorrow, it said. International flights from Sydney and Melbourne scheduled for tomorrow are under review, according to the Sydney-based carrier’s Website.
Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd., Qantas’s budget arm, canceled Sydney flights until about 2 p.m. tomorrow and Melbourne services until about 11 a.m. All New Zealand routes will be halted until midday, it said. Air New Zealand Ltd. is operating a full schedule, according to its Website.
Greyhound Australia, the nation’s biggest coach operator, will triple services over the next two days to help stranded travelers, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said on its website, citing Chief Operating Officer Tony Hopkins.
The ash cloud, which is denser and larger than one last week, may “seriously impact” flights across the south of Australia for as long as 48 hours, said Airservices Australia, the nation’s air-traffic controller.
Qantas scrapped more than 200 services today, stranding more than 20,000 passengers, Wirth said. Virgin Australia canceled 170 flights, affecting another 20,000 customers, Melissa Thomson, a spokeswoman, said by phone. Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd. grounded all of its Australia domestic flights today and canceled 14 tomorrow, according to a statement.
Qantas separately added a refueling stop on flights to Johannesburg and said that services from Buenos Aires may also need to touch down en route for more fuel.
In 1982, all four engines on a British Airways Boeing Co. 747 stalled when the plane encountered ash spewed from Mount Galunggung in Indonesia. The plane fell for almost four miles before the pilot was able to restart three engines and make an emergency landing in Jakarta.