Jetstar likely to resume Christchurch flights this evening
UPDATE FRIDAY 2pm: Jetstar flights to and from Christchurch are likely to resume after 6pm tonight.
On its website Jetstar said, "Christchurch Trans-Tasman and Domestic services remain cancelled until 1800 local time, however we anticipate resuming all services to and from Christchurch this evening."
Air New Zealand is operating to all of its domestic and international ports.
UPDATE FRIDAY 1.20pm: Normal service has resumed for Air New Zealand after flights to and from Queenstown began again.
The airline announced this morning that following the latest Metservice forecast, it would run services into and out of Queenstown from midday today.
Air New Zealand is now operating to all of its domestic and international ports.
UPDATE FRIDAY 9.30am: Jetstar has resumed some of its flights but services to and from Christchurch have been cancelled as the ash cloud continues to disrupt travel plans.
The airline announced last night:
"We are pleased to recommence our Auckland - Queenstown trans Tasman scheduled services tomorrow (Friday 17 June).
"Christchurch trans Tasman services have been cancelled for tomorrow morning (Friday 17 June).
We continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide a further update with regards to our afternoon trans Tasman Christchurch services tomorrow "morning (Friday 17 June)."
Jetstar flights between Auckland and Singapore have resumed.
Air New Zealand has not issued an update since yesterday afternoon when it advised services would resume in most South Island cities expect Queenstown.
UPDATE THURSDAY 1.00pm: Air New Zealand will resume operations in the lower South Island this afternoon following a new forecast from the New Zealand Metservice.
The forecast enables Air New Zealand to safely resume operations below the ash level to and from Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill, however, Queenstown remains affected.
General manager airline operations and safety and chief pilot Captain David Morgan said Air New Zealand was continuing to work closely with both the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airways Corporation to identify safe flight paths which avoid areas of ash.
The airline warned there would be some delays on the network as it restarted operations in these areas.
UPDATE THURSDAY 7.50am: Air New Zealand has cancelled all flights in and out of Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill this morning as the Chilean ash cloud moves lower.
Flights in and out of Queenstown - bar service to Christchurch - are still running on schedule.
Air New Zealand flights from Christchurch to Melbourne and Brisbane are also cancelled.
"Ash at these new low levels [10,000 feet] gives us no choice but to cancel some services this morning,” said general manager airline operations and safety and chief pilot Captain David Morgan.
The airline will further update at midday.
Last night, the airline - and its subsidiaries Nelson Air and Cook Airline cancelled 11 flights in and out of Christchurch and points south (see 6.30am update below).
Qantas, JetStar, Pacific Blue cancellations
All Qantas and Jetstar NZ domestic and transtasman flights remain grounded, although the airlines are scheduled to resume full mainland Australia service today, including Perth and Tasmania routes previously cancelled due to the ash cloud.
Pacific Blue airline suspended services into and out of Auckland and Hamilton, in addition to the six flights cancelled from Australia to Christchurch and Wellington.
Puyehue-Cordon Caulle continues to erupt, but with less intensity than its intial June 4 blast (see BBC footage posted yesterday here). Once the eruption stops, it will take at least six days for the ash cloud to disperse, meterologists say.
UPDATE THURSDAY 6.30am: For the first time since the Chilean ash cloud arrived in local airspace Monday, Air New Zealand has been forced to ground some of its aircraft.
Today, some early morning flights in and out of Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill are cancelled, but most flying after 7am are listed as on schedule, including transtasman flights out of Christchurch.
Previously, Air New Zealand has adjusted routes and flown planes at a lower altitude to avoid the ash cloud. But as the cloud has moved lower over the South Island, that is not possible in all cases.
Last night, the airline - and its subsidiaries Air Nelson and Mt Cook Airline - cancelled flights in and out of Christchurch and all points south. The cancellation list paints a picture of the ash cloud's reach:
Air New Zealand
NZ693 Christchurch to Dunedin
NZ694 Dunedin to Christchurch
NZ679 Auckland to Dunedin
NZ459 Wellington to Dunedin
NZ678 Dunedin to Auckland
NZ5320 Dunedin to Wellington
NZ5015 Wellington to Dunedin (Christchurch to Dunedin leg cancelled)
NZ5361 Wellington to Christchurch
Mt Cook Airline
NZ8075 Wellington to Invercargill
NZ8077 Christchurch to Invercargill
NZ8069 Christchurch to Invercargill
Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar are scheduled to resume all Australian flights today, including in and out of Perth and Tasmania, the cities most affected by the cloud.
All Jetstar transtasman and NZ domestic flights remained grounded until at least midday today.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY 3.30pm: Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar, the only airlines operating in New Zealand that are still grounded by the ash cloud, resumed most services in mainland Australia today.
However, the sister airlines' NZ domestic and transtasman flights remain grounded.
In an update this afternoon, JetStar and Qantas said all NZ domestic and transtasman flights were cancelled for the remainder of today.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY 6am: Qantas and Jetstar, the only airlines still grounded by the ash cloud, yesterday announced they would resume full Australian domestic service today.
However, the sister airlines' NZ domestic and transtasman flights remain grounded. All Wednesday morning flights are cancelled. An update is expected at midday.
UPDATE TUESDAY 4pm: Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar have cancelled all NZ domestic and transtasman flights for the remainder of the day. It has also cancelled its flights to and from Adelaide and Tasmania.
However Air New Zealand has announced its domestic and transtasman routes are continuing to fly to schedule. The airline said it was working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and MetService to establish safe flight paths.
Other airlines also continue to operate international services to and from New Zealand, including Viring Blue, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia X, Air Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Cahthay Pacific and Korean Air.
Air New Zealand general manager airline operations and safety Captain David Morgan said flying below the ash used 10% more fuel than normal.
Communications manager for the Civil Aviations Authority Bill Summers said the ash was heading East, and was at an altitude of approximately 27000 to 38000 feet. He said the ash cloud took six days to arrive in New Zealand, and could not tell how long the ash cloud would take to disperse.
UPDATE TUESDAY 6am: Jetstar and Qantas flights remain suspended until at least midday as the airlines remain concerned about the ash cloud caused by the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle erruption in Chile.
Air New Zealand flights are operating as normal and it's understood all other international airlines remain operational.
Qantas and JetStar will review domestic and transtasman flights at midday.
UPDATE Monday 1.20pm: Air New Zealand has just released a statement saying all of its domestic and transmasman flights are still flying to schedule.
At 1pm, Jetstar said it had cancelled all New Zealand domestic flights for the rest of the day, despite Civil Aviation giving the official all-clear. Jetstar transtasman flights are also cancelled.
Air New Zealand General Manager Airline Operations and Safety and Chief Pilot, Captain David Morgan said, “In order to avoid the ash, domestic services have been operating up to a maximum 5500 metres, while trans-Tasman flights departing Christchurch and Wellington were given new flight paths heading much further north than normal before crossing the Tasman.
“The extra distance involved required the use of 10% more fuel, but has meant customers were able to safely get to where they needed to go.”
Captain Morgan says the Metservice has advised that the ash cloud is now much higher and the CAA is comfortable for domestic and trans-Tasman services to continue to operate.
“We will not fly through ash and are constantly taking guidance from CAA and the Metservice to ensure we can continue to carry passengers only where safe routes and altitudes are available.”
Qantas today lifted its restriction on flights from New Zealand.
Monday 6am: Flights over New Zealand could be disrupted for the next few days as ash from the Chilean volcanic eruption drifts up the country, a Civil Aviation meteorologist has said.
In other developments this morning, Air New Zealand general manager of airline operations and safety and chief pilot David Morgan told Radio New Zealand it was possible his airline would start cancelling flights later today, or tomorrow, if planes could not avoid the Chilean ash cloud.
Transtasman flights could be cancelled if planes could not reach 20,000 feet before entering controlled airspace, Mr Morgan said.
Air New Zealand would not be putting on extra flights in the wake of other airlines grounding flights.
The general manager said that even if the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle erruption stopped tomorrow, it would take around six days for the ash cloud to disperse.
Yesterday, other airlines cancelled around 60 domestic and transtasman flights.
The Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile began erupting on June 4, with the initial ash plume reaching above 15,240m. It has drifted thousands of kilometres across the South Atlantic, South Africa, Indian Ocean, Tasmania and across New Zealand. The eruption has eased, but is still producing ash.
Jetstar, Qantas, Emirates, Virgin cancel
Jetstar,Qantas, Emirates and Virgin have cancelled around 60 transtasman and domestic flights as a safety measure, leaving around 16,000 passengers stranded on both sides of the Tasman.
A Qantas spokeswoman said Sunday that all the airline's flights in and out of Melbourne and Auckland would be grounded from 8pm.
All flights to and from Tasmania and Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington had already been cancelled.
"Qantas will continue to monitor the movement of the ash cloud and its impact on further operations," she said.
Air New Zealand still flying
However, Air New Zealand is still flying.
Spokeswoman Tracy Mills said tonight the national carrier did not expect any cancellations to its domestic or international service as a result of the ash that began to drift up the country last night.
However, the company would adjust flight routes and altitudes to ensure aircraft remained clear of any ash, she said.
Ash cloud spreading north
Civil Aviation meteorologist Peter Lechner told NZPA the cloud could be over most of the North Island by Monday morning, which would affect airline operations.
To people on the ground the ash particles, which were finer than house dust, would appear as high, thin cloud.
"You can imagine how much volume of air is being sucked through a jet engine, you can accrue a lot of ash, and the turbine blades are very hot so it just sticks to the blades, melts and builds up and eventually stalls the engine."
The ash was at an altitude of between 20,000 and 35,000 feet. Jets normally cruised between 26,000 and 32,000ft, while turboprops operated at between 18,000 and 20,000ft, Mr Lechner said.
Aircraft could operate under that band safely, although jets would use more fuel at lower altitudes, making it more expensive for the airlines.
Airlines had to operate safely and keep out of the ash, and it was their decision on how they did that, he said.
It was difficult to determine how it might affect New Zealand flights.
"The eruption started on the 4th of June and took six or seven days to get to us, so even if the eruption stops now we would still have a further six or seven days of the plume posing a problem for us, possibly."
"We might find that after a few days, the local circulation changes it and takes it all south of us."
Chilean government scientists on Friday said seismic activity was decreasing slightly, and flights in South America have been returning to normal.
Jetstar cancelled 10 transtasman to or from Christchurch and Queenstown, and 20 domestic New Zealand flights yesterday..
It said customers could be rerouted to get to their destination, defer their flights free of charge or get a full refund.
Qantas said it was attempting to contact everyone ahead of their scheduled flight.
"We are doing our best to do a call out to everyone that we can," a spokeswoman said.
The MetService is tracking the volcanic ash plumes and providing warnings to the aviation industry.