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Chile's Volcanic Ash Disrupts Flights To And From New Zealand

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Some airline flights to and from New Zealand were canceled Sunday as an ash cloud from an erupting volcano in southern Chile spread.

Australia's national carrier, Qantas Airways, said it canceled 22 flights to and from New Zealand and the Australian island-state of Tasmania, as well as eight flights within New Zealand's South Island, as the dust cloud from Chile's erupting Cordon Caulle volcano spread across the atmosphere.

Australian budget carrier Jetstar said it canceled domestic flights to South Island airports.

National carrier Air New Zealand did not cancel or delay any flights but has adjusted flight routes and altitudes to ensure aircraft remain clear of any ash, company spokeswoman Tracy Mills said. The drifting clouds of fine grit can severely damage airplane engines.

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority said the ash plumes could affect airplane cruising levels for both jet and turboprop aircraft at between 20,000 and 35,000 feet (6,000 and 10,600 meters).

The agency said the ash would likely disrupt flights for the next week.

Flights in the South American countries of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil were grounded for some days following the eruption, which began June 4.

The flight warnings and disruptions come 14 months after air traffic was grounded across Europe after the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Private weather forecaster WeatherWatch.co.nz said Sunday that ash from the volcano had spiraled clockwise around Antarctica at a very high altitude.

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