Tonga volcano eruption: Air New Zealand postpones repatriation flight due to ash clouds

By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

Air New Zealand has postponed a repatriation flight to Tonga because of the volcanic ash clouds from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption.

An undersea volcano eruption in Tonga on Saturday 15 January, 2022. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano came just a few hours after Friday's tsunami warning was lifted.
An undersea volcano eruption in Tonga on 15 January, 2022. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano came just a few hours after Friday’s tsunami warning was lifted. Photo: Tonga Meteorological Services / EyePress via AFP

The flight was scheduled to leave Auckland this Thursday.

Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and safety officer captain David Morgan said they were postponing the service indefinitely and contacting affected customers.

He said they were monitoring the situation closely and their hearts went out to people in Tonga who have been affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami over the weekend.

“Those affected include our Air New Zealand partners who help with airport operations and our sales and cargo offices in Tonga,” Morgan said in a statement.

“Thankfully, we have recently been in touch and they, their families and homes are safe. We are doing everything we can to support them.”

Fiji Airways put flights on hold

Meanwhile, all Fiji flights to Tonga have been put on hold too.

Fiji Airways said several flights have been affected and passengers can expect delays and extended flight times.

Flights affected include FJ935 from Nadi to Melbourne, FJ921 Nadi to Brisbane, FJ911 Nadi to Sydney, and FJ914 Sydney to Nadi.

“Safety remains paramount for the group and flights will only operate once approval is given by the authorities,” the airline said in statement.

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