Flights across the southern hemisphere were significantly disrupted as the cloud of volcanic ash from a erupting volcano in southern Chile drifted across Argentina and Australia.
Approximately 8,000 passengers on Qantas alone have been affected as the airline grounded all flights serving Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Wellington, New Zealand as well as Tasmania and Melbourne (Australia’s second largest city). Across the lakes region of Argentine Patagonia, the ash cloud has closed all airspace. In the southern ski resort town of Bariloche, snowplows are being used to clear piles of grey ash.
Passengers, including several large groups of teenage Tasmanian footballers, spent hours in the Melbourne airport trying to organize lodging and get answers from the airline. Those without travel insurance will be footing the bill for these travel delays on their own dime. At the same time, meteorologists are warning of a second ash cloud that could drift across southeastern Australia within the next two days.
The Chilean Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic region previously endured major eruptions in 1921 and 1922 and 1960, according to the U.S.-based Smithsonian Institution. The volcano may continue to erupt for an additional 10 days.