Air Travel Resumes in South America after Chilean Ash Cloud Disperses

on October 18 2011 10:09 AM
An aerial handout photograph shows smoke and ash from an eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain
An aerial handout photograph shows smoke and ash from an eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain on June 4. Ash from the eruption has again cancelled flights across South America. REUTERS

Airline officials say that international and domestic flights out of Argentina and Uruguay have resumed after an ash clouds from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano closed the skies over portions of South America.

A weekend windstorm kicked up so much ash from the Chilean volcano that flights were cancelled in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.

Air travel in South America has been problematic since the Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting in June. However, this time, the cancellations were not due to an eruption, but rather winds gusting up to 75 mph. The winds kicked up ash that had accumulated across Patagonia. With the onset of spring, snow is melting and there is nothing to hold the ash in place.

A huge cloud of ash enveloped Buenos Aires and Montevideo on Sunday and grounded hundreds of flights through Monday afternoon.

There is no ash. The weather conditions improved and there are no particles on the surface, a spokesman for Aeropuertos 2000, which operates the two major airports in Buenos Aires, said Monday afternoon.

Later in the day, airlines in Uruguay also took to the air again.

Most flights are now operating between the two countries, an official at Montevideo's Carrasco International Airport told AFP.

Brazilian airlines GOL and TAM said that they too had resumed flights by Monday afternoon.

When the Chilean volcano began erupting in June, it generated an ash cloud that traveled around the Southern Hemisphere twice, cancelling flights across South America and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Chilean towns near the volcano have been under a red alert since June, while damage to livestock and crops from the ash led Argentina to declare an agricultural emergency in the southern provinces of Rio Negro, Chubut and Neuquen.

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