The ash from Chile’s volcano, Puyehue, has been spread more than halfway around the world, thanks to some seriously strong winds. It’s hard to believe that a volcanic eruption could affect people halfway around the world! Mother Nature is incredible, as always. She is the most powerful force around–nobody can mess with Mother Nature… especially not the airlines.
Chile’s volcano has halted the travel plans of around 30,000 people. Australian Airlines has grounded some of its domestic services and flights to New Zealand due to the spread of volcanic ash in the air.
The ash from Chile’s volcano has been carried by strong winds “over the southern Atlantic and southern Indian Oceans to Australia and New Zealand.”
On Sunday, national air carrier Qantas grounded all flights to and from Tasmania, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Wellington, concerned about the safety of their passengers and crew. The groundings were then extended to Melbourne and Auckland.
On Monday, Virgin Australia decided to resume some flights, with the belief that conditions are now safe enough to operate.
“Overnight we have been monitoring closely the situation and we now believe that conditions are safe to operate,” Virgin Australia’s Sean Donohue was quoted saying in a statement.
Qantas is supposed to reassess the situation early Monday.
“We believe that it’s absolutely the right thing to ground these services. We will put them back up in the air as soon as possible but it’s a safety first approach for our customers,” Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth told ABC radio.
Passengers typically get annoyed when flights are cancelled or delayed, but they need to realize that the airlines are, first and foremost, concerned with safety. Nobody should be okay with flying if the conditions are not entirely safe.
“Qantas said it took the precautionary measure until it knew more about the density of the cloud and its possible impact on aircraft.”
Air New Zealand has taken an alternative approach, deciding “it will adjust flight routes and altitudes to avoid the plumes, which New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority has warned will be at 20,000-30,000 feet, the cruising altitude for both jet and turboprop aircraft.”
It is likely that Chile’s volcano will have an impact upon Australian air traffic for a few days, given that thousands of passengers have been stranded on either side of the Tasman Sea.
You all know the saying, though… better to be safe than sorry. That appears to be the very motto the Australian and New Zealand airlines have adopted in this situation. Mother Nature is truly a force to be reckoned with.