19 Jun 2011

Flights resume, weekend skies likely to be clear

8:31 am on 19 June 2011

Most airlines flying out of New Zealand returned to normal schedules on Friday evening, but have a passenger backlog from this week's disruptions by volcanic ash.

Ash clouds drifting around the globe from an eruption in Chile have caused cancellations and delays since Sunday, but the Civil Aviation Authority says the clouds have moved on and skies should be clear over the weekend.

Air New Zealand said on Friday afternoon all its flights were operating as normal, while Jetstar and Qantas resumed flights to and from Christchurch at 6pm.

Air New Zealand says it has a small backlog of flights in and out of Queenstown which it hopes to have cleared by Saturday.

Jetstar says it has a considerable backlog and is running extra services to clear it, while Qantas says its backlog should be cleared within 24 hours.

Pacific Blue says it should start flying again on Saturday morning.

Post, freight disrupted

New Zealand Post says some mail that would have been sent by air has been moved by road during the flight disruption.

Spokesperson John Tulloch says in some cases mail will be delayed by one or two days. About 5% of letters have been affected, he says.

The flight cancellations have come at a bad time for flower exporter Flying Fresh International, with the cymbidium orchid season just under way and orders from the United States and Asia to fill.

Director Stephen Arnet says the firm has been able to switch to using airlines that kept flying, but higher passenger volumes mean less space for its cargo.