Ash causes more flight cancellations

Last updated 19:41 24/06/2011

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Qantas and Jetstar have cancelled all flights in and out of New Zealand for tomorrow as the volcanic ash cloud settles in the country's airspace for the weekend.

The plume was also threatening the travel plans of Prime Minister John Key, who is scheduled to fly to India early on Sunday morning.

Airforce staff have asked media travelling with Key to prepare for an earlier departure on Saturday evening to try and get around the ash.

The cloud, from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile, is on its second journey across New Zealand after initially affecting air travel last week.

Qantas and Jetstar have again grounded all flights in and out of New Zealand today and tomorrow.

Flights look set to be disrupted for more days yet as the cloud, initially thought to be moving off today, is showing no signs of heading offshore.

Civil Aviation Authority meteorological manager Peter Lechner this morning said the ash would be over the country for "at least tomorrow and maybe into Sunday".

"The weather pattern it's sitting in isn't really moving," Lechner said.

"So it's going to be with us for a bit longer than we thought."

The plume was currently sitting at about 18,000 feet, Lechner said, which meant airlines still flying would have to adjust to a lower controlled airspace.

Air New Zealand continued to fly despite the ash.

The Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting on June 4 and has caused thousands of flights to be grounded as its ash cloud shifts across the globe.

The cloud could possibly move into the atmosphere for a third time before dispersing.

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- Stuff

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