Travel misery as ash grounds Australia flights


- Tens of thousands of travellers were stranded Monday after ash from Chile’s volcanic eruptions prompted Australian airlines to ground some domestic and international services.


Strong winds have carried the ash more than half way around the world, over the southern Atlantic and southern Indian Oceans to Australia and as far as New Zealand since Chile’s Puyehue volcano erupted more than a week ago.


Qantas said all flights in and out of the southern island of Tasmania and to New Zealand remained grounded Monday, but it lifted a ban on flights to and from the southern Australian city of Melbourne.


The ash has already forced the cancellation of several international flights from airports in Argentina and Uruguay, and Qantas said three international services to Buenos Aires and Los Angeles were also halted.


A total of 110 Qantas flights were cancelled on Sunday and Monday, delaying at least 20,000 travellers while as many as 25,000 more passengers have been disrupted by Qantas’s offshoot Jetstar suspending some flights.


The airlines said it would take several days to work through the backlog, but it was too soon to say how long the ash would linger over Australia.


“It’s down to our safety standards. Our Qantas group policy is that if there is any sign of ash cloud around we won’t operate,” airline spokeswoman Olivia Wirth told state broadcaster ABC.


Aviation authorities and airlines are closely monitoring the plume, with Virgin Australia saying Monday it believed it was safe to fly to Melbourne, Tasmania and New Zealand, adding its planes would fly around or under the ash.


When Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano erupted last year, its vast ash cloud grounded more than 100,000 planes as authorities in Europe fretted over potential damage from the razor-sharp ash particles to jet engines.


But there are no official or industry-wide standards regarding volcanic ash and many European airlines, suffering hefty losses and grappling with millions of stranded passengers, were angered at their governments’ caution.


In New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the cloud now covered most of the country and was likely to remain for the next 24 hours.


Spokesman Bill Sommer said the authority believed it was safe to fly under the cloud, but the decision on whether to fly rested with individual airlines.


Air New Zealand said it had operated 473 flights on Sunday, carrying more than 26,500 passengers around the country and across the Tasman, after making changes to flight paths and cruising altitudes “to completely avoid the ash”.


“It would have been far easier to simply cancel flights,” chief pilot Captain David Morgan said.


The airline said to avoid the ash, trips to Australia had been given new flight paths heading further north than normal before crossing the Tasman, while domestic services were operating at a maximum 5,500 metres (18,000 feet).


Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said airlines were free to operate, provided they avoided areas forecast to hold volcanic ash.


“Airlines may chose to take a more conservative approach based on their own risk assessment,” it said. “That is acceptable to CASA and is consistent with the approach taken by regulatory authorities in Europe.”


The flight disruptions have affected holidaymakers, sports players and politicians alike, with the air force called in to fly Tasmanian lawmakers back to Canberra for the resumption of parliament on Tuesday.


Rugby league player Robbie Farah scrambled onto an Emirates flight out of Auckland after his surprise call-up to the New South Wales State of Origin squad, while his Wests Tigers teammates stayed in New Zealand.


Australia’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre said a similar ash cloud had not been seen in the region in two decades and this one was likely to continue to travel around the globe.

Travel misery as ash grounds Australia flights

IFITT Context Based Services in Tourism Workshop

July 7 – 9, 2011

United Kingdom

Register For This Event


Context Based Services is emerging as a key research area and a great business opportunity and challenge. This is particularly the case in tourism where location and context based services will be used for serving the travellers of the future.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together industry leaders with scholars and researchers with an interest in the interaction between Context Based Services, technology and Tourism. The workshop is designed to facilitate the sharing of ideas on all aspects of the topic and to encourage/facilitate innovative and in-depth analysis with a view to downstream practical applications and outcomes. Participants may engage with the workshop in a variety of ways with or without presentation. Options include the production of a discussion paper or short abstract which will form the basis of collaborative discussion after a short oral presentation. Additionally there is the opportunity to submit a full paper for peer review and formal presentation towards the development of a special issues in JITT.

The workshop is organised by ICTHR, Bournemouth University (BU), UK and CICtourGUNE, Cooperative Research Center in Tourism, Spain, and co chaired by Dimitrios Buhalis of BU and Aurkene Alzua of CICtourGUNE. The organising committee consist of Zornitza Yovcheva of BU and Carlos Lamfus of CICtourGUNE.

To register, click here. For more information please contact Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, IFITT President and Deputy Director ICTHR, Bournemouth University email  or visit

PATA Workshop in Moscow

July 11, 2011



The Russian market is considered among the top five producing market for Asia for the next three years to come. Attend a workshop in Moscow and meet top Russian buyers from upscale and luxury travel companies. Join the PATA Workshop in Moscow, Russia on July 11, 2011. Deadline for best buy is June 20, 2011.


PATA members have priority to participate and benefit from a special price. Participation fee is 860 EUR net for PATA members and 1300 EUR for non PATA members.


For enquiries, contact Marion Buttler at or Eric Grandjean of RM Consultants Russia at For more information, visit

TAT and Mastercard Team Up for Stopover Bangkok Project

Posted: Mon 13 Jun, 2011 11:06 AM

TAT and Mastercard Team Up for Stopover Bangkok Project

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Mastercard revealed the Stopover Bangkok Project at the Thailand Travel Mart 2011 on June 8. The Stopover Bangkok Project is aimed to urge transit passengers to stay for a night or two in Bangkok.


According to a report in eTurbo News, TAT has received support from 122 renowned Bangkok-based service providers in providing stopover offers in 11 thematic tour categories, namely: adventure and excursion, art and culture, beauty and spa, ethics and local tours, fine dining, golf day and night, health and medical, shopping, shows and entertainment, Thai cooking classes, and transportation. Seven suggested tour routes are also available, such as Amazing Bangkok, Art and Senses Route, Bangkok Nightcrawlers, Floating and Exotic Markets, Gourmet Route, Shop Drop and Spa, and Shopping Route.


The campaign will run until October 31, 2011. Mastercard holders can enjoy special top-up privileges and discounts from 5% up to 20%.

Tourism Australia: Now Available on Your Smartphone

Posted: Mon 13 Jun, 2011 10:22 AM

Tourism Australia: Now Available on Your Smartphone

Tourism Australia has developed a new smartphone app designed to attract travellers to visit Australia.


To develop the smartphone app, Tourism Australia collaborated with its Facebook fans to help improve the app’s features and functionalities. The new smartphone app is in line with Tourism Australia’s global campaign, ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’. It enables users to access thousands of photos of destinations, attractions and experiences throughout Australia;  search by state, city or type of experience or shuffle through images randomly; find the nearest Australian travel specialist wherever they are in the world; locate the closest 50 holiday experiences, using the app’s ‘Near Me Now’ function; connect easily to Tourism Australia’s website,; and save or share favourite photos and experiences with family and friends via Facebook, Twitter or email.


The Tourism Australia smartphone app is compatible with iPhone and Android devices, and app updates will be officially launched on June 30, 2011.

Accor Unveils New Online Column

Posted: Mon 13 Jun, 2011 9:50 AM

Accor Unveils New Online Column

Accor has launched a new dedicated column called ‘Sustainable Travel Accommodation’ to connect with consumers through surveys, video presentations and online forums.


The new column was unveiled together with the travel channel of China’s major portal website, Sina. Accor Greater China Senior Vice President Mr Robert Murray was quoted in Travel Daily Asia as having said that the launch of the Accor-Sina online column will surely lead to a better understanding of their customers’ needs and habits in China. Murray added that they hope the public will find the results informative and stimulate thinking on how travel and tourism can become more sustainable.


The new online column kicked off with a survey on how Chinese travellers value their health. More than 2,400 frequent travellers responded to the survey.

Munich Airport Launches InfoGate

Posted: Mon 13 Jun, 2011 9:27 AM

Munich Airport Launches InfoGate

Munich Airport has introduced the InfoGate, a new way of obtaining quick and detailed information for passengers.


At the InfoGate, the airport visitor simply pushes a button to be connected immediately via videoconference with an information service representative for a real-time dialog on life-sized screens, as reported in Odyssey eMagazine. The new InfoCounters enable passengers to have access to information in areas of the airport with no opportunity for face-to-face contact with information service representatives. Six new InfoGates have been placed in pubic and non-public areas of the airport, and additional 17 ‘Interactive InfoGates’, touch screens mounted on pillars that provide information services, have been placed at key crossroads throughout the terminals.


This new information system has been developed by Munich Airport’s own software specialists, and has been undergoing testing since March. An estimated 45,000 visitors and passengers have used the InfoGate.

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