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Volcanic ash update

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14 June 2011 by Luke McCormick

Volcanic ash from the eruption of the Puyehue volcano in southern Chile continues to affect flights in the region and has also spread across the Pacific with delays and disruption to services in South-east Australia and New Zealand.

Flights to/from Melbourne, Tasmania and New Zealand were cancelled on 12 and 13 June, affecting over 30,000 passengers. The ash cloud is expected to continue to impact regional air travel for several more days.

Qantas and Jetstar have cancelled trans-Tasman flights today, but Air New Zealand's domestic and trans-Tasman flights continue to operate to schedule.

ANZ chief pilot and head of safety, Captain David Morgan said: "The authorities are providing excellent information about the ash which is at high altitude and very predictable in its movement.

"By adjusting cruising altitudes of our aircraft we are able to continue to safely deliver customers to their destinations.

"Lower cruising altitudes mean we need to burn around 10% more fuel than normal, but we don't believe that's a reason to stop flying when there are perfectly safe flight paths available below the level of the ash."

Almost all carriers including Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia X, Air Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and others are today operating international services to and from New Zealand.

Qantas said it would not operate services to and from Tasmania and New Zealand on Tuesday as a result of the ash cloud.

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