Hundreds of passengers are facing travel disruption after a volcanic eruption in Indonesia sent ash clouds over the region, forcing airlines to cancel flights to and from Northern Australia.
Low-cost carrier Flybe has sunk into the red over the past financial year due to rising fuel costs and a wave of cancellations caused by the Icelandic ash cloud last April and freezing weather in winter. Pre-tax losses were £4.3m in the carrier’s first full year results since its £60m floatation on the stock market.
Virgin Australia and Qantas Airlines have both cancelled flights in Australia as aviation in the southern hemisphere continues to be affected by volcanic ash. All flights in to and out of Sydney and Melbourne have been cancelled for the next 48 hours as ash from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile circles the earth for the second time.
Safety was at the heard of a developing debate in Australia this morning, with carriers offering sharply different responses to the ongoing ash cloud crisis. While Australian flag-carrier Qantas has cancelled flights across the country, competitor Virgin Atlantic insisted it was safe to fly.
Qantas, Jetstar and Tiger Airways have all cancelled flights this morning, as strong winds carry ash particles from Puyehue Volcano in Chile across the southern hemisphere. Air travel in South America also continues to be disrupted, with flights in and out of the Argentine and Uruguayan capitals cancelled.
Dozens of flights in Australasia have been grounded as an ash cloud from South America drifts over the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Originating in Chile, the cloud has drifted around the world to lie over southern parts of New Zealand and Australia.
South America has become the latest victim of volcanic ash, with airports in Argentina and neighbouring Uruguay forced to close following a volcanic eruption in Chile. The Puyehue Volcano – dormant for decades – erupted over the weekend, sending a plume of ash over the Andes and disrupting air traffic in South America for days.
More than two million people are expected to pass through UK airports this weekend, making it the busiest Whitsun bank holiday in at least a decade, with New York, Dubai and Dublin the top three destinations. Eurocontrol said it expected a trouble-free weekend following uncertainties earlier in the week surrounding the ash cloud. The volcano is reported to still be active but throwing out steam and smoke rather than ash.
Iceland experienced a volcanic eruption over the weekend from the Grimsvotn volcano, and we are currently monitoring the impact of the resulting volcanic ash cloud.
The UK Met Office has said the volcanic ash cloud poses no threat to holidaymakers planning to fly over the Whitsun bank holiday. Meanwhile Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has put a new structure in place to deal more efficiently with any future eruptions by Icelandic volcanoes.
Eurostar has announced it will be running additional services between London and Paris on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 May to meet increased demand resulting from the ash cloud disruption. To help bank holiday passengers get away, the high-speed train operator is organising two extra trains from London St Pancras to Paris Gare Du Nord and back.