Over 100 flights cancelled in Argentina and Chile due to volcano ashes

Jun 10, 2011 12:00 AM

Over 100 flights were cancelled out of the capitals of Argentina and Chile because of safety concerns over the ash cloud from the eruption of the Chilean volcano Puyehue, aviation officials said.
In Buenos Aires alone at least 90 flights from the Ezeiza international airport and the Jorge Newbery Metropolitan domestic and regional airports were cancelled as the ashes from the volcano reached the capital and covered cars and streets in a thin layer of ashes.

"All flights were cancelled this morning because the volcanic cloud," an official at the Aeropuertos 2000 company, which operates 33 airports across Argentina, told.
Among the flights confirmed cancelled by noon were at least 40 domestic flights in addition to 23 arrivals and 27, the official said.

Argentine authorities said the daily activities of Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez also were affected by the ashes, as Fernandez was forced to travel from the Official Residence in northern Buenos Aires to the Government House by car instead of helicopter as she usually does.
Flights have been cancelled continuously since the volcano first erupted and only left small periods of time in-between for airlines to resume regular schedules, especially affecting Chilean airline group LAN and Aerolineas Argentinas which suspended all services for hours at a time.

Argentina has set up a crisis committee involving airports, security, meteorological and transport authorities as well as airlines. The committee will meet later to discuss the situation.
The Argentine airports of Bariloche, Chapelco, Esquel, Trelew, Viedma, Newuquen and Bahia Blanca remain closed.

Officials from LAN in the Chilean capital of Santiago said it had cancelled all flights to and from Buenos Aires and Cordoba in Argentina, as well as the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. The airline didn't confirm the exact number of flights it had cancelled but LAN operates hundreds of flights out of Chile's capital Santiago daily including tens of flights between regional capitals.
LAN would continue to monitor the situation and evaluate the security risks and was doing everything possible to keep passengers informed and assist them in their travel plans, the airline said.

The Puyehue Volcano, which is located in southern Chile close to the border with Argentina, erupted for the first time since 1960.

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