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Volcanic ash wanders across Pacfic; snarls NZ, Australia air traffic

The June 4 eruption of a volcano in the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcanic Complex in southern Chile has affected air traffic as far away as New Zealand and Australia.  Unsafe levels of volcanic ash in the air have stranded upwards of 30,000 air travelers, at airports in those two countries, according to the Associated Press.

In reaction to the hazardous conditions, Australia's flag carrier airline Qantas Airways grounded all of its incoming and outgoing traffic at Tullamarine Airport (IATA: MEL; ICAO: YMML) in Melbourne, indefinitely.  Television New Zealand Online reported that the largest Australian airline did the same thing for all of its traffic at Auckland International Airport (IATA: AKL; ICAO: NZAA).  The New Zealand Herald Online reported that Qantas has cancelled all trans-Tasman flights indefinitely.

Air New Zealand was bolder in its determination to stay on schedule, but was eventually forced to alter several flight paths on account of volcanic ash in the region.  Australia's Sydney Morning Herald speculated that by Monday morning, airports in New Zealand would begin to be affected.

related stories

Iceland's Grímsvötn erupts; only 500 flights cancelled (May 26, 2011)

Mount Merapi erupts; many Jakarta flights cancelled (November 6, 2010)

U.K.-based easyJet will debut a new ash detector (June 5, 2010)

Airlines now criticizing British models of predicted ash movement (May 17, 2010)

Volcanoes in Iceland could affect aviation for decades (May 17, 2010)

Eyjafjallajökull damage report, and spectacular new video (May 13, 2010)

The spread of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull over time (May 4, 2010)

original stories

Volcanic ash strands 30,000 in Australia, NZ (Yahoo News)

Chile volcano forces flight canellations (http://tvnz.co.nz)

Volcanic ash cloud cancels transtasman flights (New Zealand Herald)

NZ flights could face delays from ash (Sydney Morning Herald)

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