Virgin Australia Resumes Flights; Qantas Grounds Some Due to Ash Cloud

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting comparison between Qantas and Virgin Australia's responses to the Chilean ash cloud today: Qantas is still suspending some flights, the report says, but Virgin Australia has resumed all services.

Qantas will not operate services to and from Adelaide, Tasmania and New Zealand for the rest of the day as a result of the ash cloud from Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano. Flights to and from Melbourne are operating as scheduled. The report also notes that Qantas' safety image took a hit in November when an engine explosion on an A380 superjumbo forced the temporary grounding of its fleet of the double-decker aircraft.

In a statement, Virgin Australia Group Executive Sean Donohue said the Group’s Volcanic Ash Management Team will remain activated while there continues to be any potential for flight disruption. “Our Volcanic Ash Management Team continues to work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology and the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in order to ensure determinations regarding our fleet operations are made on accurate and up to the minute data, as safety is always our highest priority,” Donohue said. Most Virgin passengers whose travel plans were disrupted were able to travel on alternative flights, with the remainder expected to be provided alternative flights today. Additional flights will be implemented between Sydney and Melbourne and Melbourne and Hobart to carry impacted Guests.

More than 50,000 passengers were stranded in Australia and New Zealand as flights were canceled on Sunday and Monday, with many Australians who had gone away for the Queen's Birthday long-holiday weekend unable to return to home.

The large ash cloud hovering over southeastern Australia is expected to remain there for at least another 24 hours, Gordon Jackson, the supervising meteorologist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's volcanic ash unit in Darwin, told the newspaper.

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