Tonga Volcano Disrupts Domestic Air Services

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Volcanic ash from Hunga Ha‘apai drifts into flight paths

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 9, 2015) – Tonga’s domestic airline Real Tonga cancelled its flights yesterday afternoon Thursday, 8 January due to ash coming from the continuing volcanic activity at Hunga Ha‘apai to the north west of Tongatapu.

In a statement, the airline said it was operating all scheduled flights until after 2:00 pm yesterday, when wind changes pushed volcanic-ash into the flight paths between Tongatapu and Ha’apai.

The volcanic activity has been occurring since mid-December.

"But conditions did not affect flights until yesterday," Real Tonga stated.

"Reports from the Meteorological Services and flight crews indicated the changes in wind direction was pushing volcanic-ash into pre-determined flights paths."

The airline planned to operate normal schedules, including additional flights to cater for the affected passengers as soon as possible.

"This will depend on the weather conditions that influence or possibly worsen the effect of the volcanic activity," Real Tonga stated.

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