Australian airspace hit by Chilean ash cloud

| June 21, 2011
”Australian

Australia’s flagship airline, Qantas, has been forced to suspend all flights to and from Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney because ash cloud from the Chilean volcano has drifted.

The ash cloud from the Puyehue volcano, which erupted on 4 June, has once again moved into Australian airspace and is currently sitting at the same altitude that planes fly.

It was the first time since 1960 that the volcano has erupted and forced the evacuation of more than 4,000 people living in the area.

In the meantime, international services to and from Sydney, including flights to London, are being assessed.

However, other airports which are affected include Port Lincoln, Albury, Wagga, Newcastle and Mildura.

Virgin Australia has also been forced to cancel all flights in and out of airports, while budget airline Jetstar has had to cancel several flights.

The news comes less than a month after ash cloud drifted over Scotland from Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano, resulting in flight cancellations.

Furthermore, in April 2010, another Icelandic volcano located under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier about 100 miles east of capital Reykjavik, led to the closure of airspace.

While a few days of disruption would cause limited impact, if it goes on for several weeks, it can have significant disruption and impact on an economy.

Australia’s economy is already struggling after recent figures showed GDP contracted in the first quarter after flood and cyclone disasters led to a fall in coal and agricultural exports.

The economy contracted by 1.2% in the January to March period – the first time growth has fallen since the final quarter of 2008 – at the height of the financial crisis.

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