The Jorge Newbery airport in Buenos Aires suspended all flights on Sunday because of the presence of ash from neighbouring Chile’s Puyehue volcano, which disrupted global travel when it erupted earlier this year.
12:37AM BST 17 Oct 2011
“We need the ash cloud to pass” before the airlines operating out of the airport, which serves domestic and regional flights, resume their operations, Transport Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi told local television.
The city’s other major airport, Ezeiza, in the southern suburbs, was however still open for international flights, the official said.
Argentina’s LAN airline said in a statement that domestic flights were most affected, including routs to Mendoza on the steps of the Andes mountains toward the Chilean border, and Ushuaia in the far south.
Air traffic in the southern hemisphere has been hit hard in recent months, paralysing airports in Buenos Aires and Montevideo and later those in Australia and New Zealand, when the volcano high in the Andes roared back to life in June after sleeping dormant for half a century.
Sine June most airports in Argentina have been forced into shutdowns at some point due to dangerous ash clouds threatening the safety of commercial airliners.
The ash cloud also dampened hopes of a good tourist season at the Argentine skiing resort of Bariloche, some 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires and just 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Puyehue, as flights were cancelled and pristine snow was darkened by the spewing volcano.
Ash poses a significant threat to aircraft because once sucked into engines, it can be transformed into molten glass by the high temperatures and potentially cause an engine to fail.
The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjoll last year caused the greatest shutdown of air space in peacetime Europe, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled and eight million passengers affected.