SYDNEY (AP) — Airlines were resuming flights out of some of Australia’s largest airports but canceling service to New Zealand and the island state of Tasmania on Wednesday as winds shifted the volcanic ash from Chile that has crippled air travel in the region for several days this month.
Many flights across southern Australia were suspended for two days because of the ash, stranding thousands of passengers before winds pushed the cloud southeast. The ash can damage jet engines.
Qantas and its budget subsidiary Jetstar have told customers that flights through Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, and the national capital, Canberra, will resume by late morning. Virgin was to return to the air by noon.
The three airlines canceled flights to New Zealand and Tasmania, however, because the ash has shifted into those flight paths.
Ash from Chile’s Cordon Caulle volcano grounded hundreds of flights and stranded tens of thousands of passengers last week when it hovered over several Australian cities and New Zealand. All flights were running normally by late last week, but now the ash has lapped the globe and is causing more problems.
Greyhound is running extra bus service in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane to help move a backlog of stranded passengers, while trains between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne had added rail cars.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said it was possible all flight schedules would return to normal on Thursday.
Chile said Sunday that the Cordon Caulle volcano, which began erupting June 4, was becoming less active.
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