Ash update: No Qantas, Jetstar flights today

By Paul Harper, AAP, NZPA

A traveler reacts when he reads his flight is one of only a few flights which are not cancelled at Sydney Airport. Photo / AP
A traveler reacts when he reads his flight is one of only a few flights which are not cancelled at Sydney Airport. Photo / AP

Jetstar and Qantas have cancelled all flights to, from and within New Zealand for today as the ash cloud from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano stretches over the North Island.

The ash cloud is making its second lap around the world, yesterday creating travel chaos across Australia, as well as disrupting several trans-Tasman flights.

Qantas last night announced all flights in and out of New Zealand from 9am would be cancelled until further notice, with passengers advised to check the airline's website for further updates.

"The Qantas Group's approach to flying is based on the highest standards of safety and risk assessment," a statement from the airline said.

Qantas resumed Adelaide flights this morning, and will recommence Melbourne flights at 1pm NZT, Canberra flights at 3pm NZT, Sydney flights at 4pm NZT.

Flights to and from Hobart have been suspended for the day.

Qantas subsidiary Jetstar has now cancelled all flights to and from New Zealand, as well as all New Zealand domestic flights for today.

However across the Tasman, the airline plans to resume Melbourne flights at 1pm NZT, Tasmanian flights at 2pm NZT and Sydney and Newcastle flights at 4pm NZT.

A Virgin Australia spokesman said the airline expected to recommence flights from Adelaide at 9.30am NZT, Melbourne from 2pm NZT, Canberra and Sydney at 5pm NZT, and Tasmania 6pm NZT, however a number of Pacific Blue flights across the Tasman today have been cancelled.

"Given that the ash cloud is moving to the east it will be progressively impacting flights to New Zealand," he said.

Air New Zealand will continue flying today but said its decision to go around or under the ash cloud was constantly being reviewed.

Budget airline Tiger, which flies across Australia and Asia, grounded its entire fleet until at least last night because the planes were in cloud-affected areas.

New Zealand Civil Aviation's manager of meteorology Peter Lechner said yesterday the ash cloud is expected to reach New Zealand late this morning.

He expected it to stretch from Northland to just north of Wellington at a height of 7,300m (24,000ft), which leaves the possibility for airlines to fly under the ash.

Mr Lechner could not comment on whether the ash cloud would have as large an impact on flights as last week, as decisions on flights wre up to the individual airlines.

"Every plume is different. This one's affecting North Island airspace - in the latter part of last week it was South Island airspace."

Australian Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the Bureau of Meteorology expected airports in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney will be affected by the volcanic ash for up to two days, though he noted weather conditions were unpredictable.

"Safety must be our first priority," he told reporters in Canberra.

Chilian authorities have said the volcano, which began erupting on June 4, was becoming less active.

The head of the Australian Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, Dr Andrew Tupper, said the ash cloud had clearly dissipated since its first pass over Australia and New Zealand last week and it was unlikely to return a third time.

"My view is that we would be unlucky to have it come over us again, but I think we need to be a little bit cautious and stay vigilant for it just in case."

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