23 Jun 2011

Chile ash cloud spares Pacific Islands airports

2:59 pm on 23 June 2011

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority says flight paths between Pacific Islands are ash free.

However, it says travel to and from New Zealand is still affected by Chile's erupting volcano.

A spokesman for the Authority, Peter Lechner, says the ash cloud is being closely monitored with updates provided every six hours.

He says it is up to the airlines to make their own decisions about operating flights.

He says the ash cloud is affecting New Zealand but not the Pacific Islands.

"It stretches out to the north of New Zealand by two or three hundred kilometres, out past the Chatham Islands and down to the Antarctic. In the west it is back to Tasmania and the Southern Ocean through to the Indian Ocean. There's no ash in the wider Pacific area and certainly no ash in between this particular plume and any of the destinations in the Pacific Islands."

Pacific Blue has suspended all its flights to and from New Zealand, but Air New Zealand is still flying its scheduled routes.