Ash cloud grounds flights in Australia

Ash cloud grounds flights in Australia

Air passengers face disruption to and from Australia as the volcanic ash cloud from Chile’s Puyehue volcano sweeps across the south of the country.

Australia’s two major airports, Sydney and Melbourne, have cancelled all flights for up to 48 hours, while Adelaide and Canberra have also been hit.

Last week, tens of thousands of people were stranded as airlines grounded flights because of the cloud, and now the ash from the Puyeue volcano is circling the Earth for a second time.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology estimates Adelaide will be affected for 24 hours while Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne face between 36 and 48 hours of disruption. International flights inbound to Sydney have been diverted to Brisbane.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers will be affected across the country as number of flights have been grounded and cancelled: Qantas estimates that they will be cancelling in excess of 200 flights; Virgin Atlantic’s domestic cancellations alone will affect over 170 flights; Tiger Airways is reported to have grounded its entire fleet; and Quantas’ budget airline Jetstar also cancelled all its Adelaide and Sydney flights.

The Puyehue eruption, which began on 4 June, has caused levels of flight disruption not seen since an Icelandic volcano paralysed Europe in 2010.

In Chile, authorities have allowed several thousand people evacuated from communities close to the volcano to return. Scientists says that volcanic activity has decreased but it is still likely to emit ash for quite some time.

2010: The volcano that shut Britain

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