Travel chaos as ash cloud returns
Several flights cancelled leaving thousands stranded around the nation as the Chilean ash cloud returns to Australia.
- Domestic Sydney flights suspended from 3pm
- International flights under review
- Tiger grounds entire fleet
- Full list of affected flights
The volcanic ash cloud drifting across Australian airspace will continue to disrupt flights, with Qantas cancelling tomorrow's services in and out of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Qantas said all other domestic flights will operate normally, while international services arriving into Sydney and Melbourne, including from New Zealand, would be delayed until Thursday.
Qantas said it was reviewing its international flights to and from Sydney. Four flights departing Sydney and bound for London and Frankfurt via Bangkok and Singapore were rescheduled to leave earlier at 2.15pm. Flight QF32 from Singapore to Sydney has been diverted to Brisbane.
All Jetstar flights arriving and departing Newcastle have also been cancelled from 3pm. Virgin's Newcastle flights were suspended from 4pm.
For Adelaide, all airlines have suspended their flights for the rest of the day.
In Queensland, Virgin said flights to and from the Gold Coast were being affected by the cloud, and Brisbane Airport issued a warning that flights to and from the capital were likely to be cancelled or delayed.
Tiger Airways has grounded its entire fleet in Australia.
Passengers were urged to stay in touch with their airlines.
Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth told Sky News this morning: "We simply don't have enough information and it will be safety before schedule."
"We don't know the density [of the cloud]. ... The Qantas group will not be flying or around the particular cloud."
"Customers are advised not travel to the airport if their flight has been cancelled. A fare waiver is in
place and full details can be accessed on qantas.com," Qantas added in a statement.
Airservices Australia said "significant nationwide flow-on delays" were expected. It added that flights from Perth heading towards south-eastern Australia would be affected and advised passengers to contact their airlines directly.
The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin said the cloud will cross the South Australian coast this morning and then the southern NSW coast late today.
Yesterday afternoon the plume was 2000 kilometres south-west of Western Australia but was moving rapidly at 80 to 100 knots.
It was predicted to run into a strong low-pressure system in the Great Australian Bight, which would drag it northwards, the ash advisory centre's director, Andrew Tupper, said.
Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting on June 4, shooting a plume of ash into the air which made its way across the Atlantic and Indian oceans before reaching Australian and New Zealand airspace.
The air cloud has travelled around Earth one-and-a-half times and is "particularly persistent in the atmosphere", Airservices Australia said.
Last week, almost 100,000 people and 700 flights were affected by the ash plume over six days of air chaos spanning from Perth to New Zealand.
Mr Tupper said as the plume was a rare occurence, a third loop back to Australia was not likely.
"A third time round would be unprecedented," he told Agence France-Presse, adding that it was a testing time for airlines.
"It is a very complex problem for the airlines to manage. Obviously they have to take a conservative approach."
In May, the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland erupted, disrupting flights in some parts of northern Europe.
In April last year, the eruption of a volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, also in Iceland, sent plumes of ash kilometres into the atmosphere and severely affected air travel.
Ash poses a significant threat to aircraft because once sucked into engines it can be converted into molten glass as a result of the high temperatures and potentially cause an engine to fail.
with Andrew Heasley, Stephanie Gardiner, AAP/AFP