Ash cloud has wide reaching impact on travel

Ash cloud has wide reaching impact on travel

A cloud of ash being spewed by the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile continues to disrupt travel as far away as in New Zealand, Reuters reports.

For six days now, the ash cloud has hovered over the southern part of New Zealand as it moves north and east, according to the news source. When the cloud recently dipped to 10,000 feet, South Island airports were forced to close. New Zealand is not the only country that has been effected as cloud-related disruptions have stretched across the southern hemisphere.

Aside from the impact this disruption has had on leisure and business travelers, the ash cloud has forced many government officials to find alternative means of getting to their destinations, the Los Angeles Times reports. For instance, Ollanta Humala, the president of Peru, had to take a boat in order to keep his appointment with Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the president of Argentina. Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, resorted to taking a 400-mile bus ride from Cordoba, Argentina, to Buenos Aires.

Qantas Airways has had to cancel or suspend several flights since the ash cloud began to drift from Chile. For the past week, the airline has posted a series of travel updates on its website.

"This is about Qantas safety standards and procedures in place," said Olivia Wirth, a Qantas spokesperson, quoted by The Associated Press. "We want to assure the safety of crew, the safety of our passengers and ultimately the safety of our airlines. So until such time that we get greater clarity on the ash cloud and until it removes, we will not operate services."

Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Ezeiza, Argentina, has been closed since the volcano first erupted, according to the Los Angeles Times. In addition, major carriers cancelled their flights to South American countries such as Brazil and Uruguay, as well as Australia.

Reuters reports that the ash cloud has traveled approximately 6,000 miles across the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The disruptions are far from over, as the Chilean volcano continues to erupt and shoot ash 35,000 feet into the air.

Experts also tell the news source that air traffic might be affected for several months. As a result, individuals who recently purchased first or business class tickets may want to check to see if their flights have been affected by the ash cloud. 

By Christopher Straub

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