The ash cloud from the Chilean Volcano Puyehue-Cordón Caulle in eruption since June 4 has reached Cape Town airspace affecting flights in and out of Cape Town International Airport.
One of the grounded travellers was South African president Jacob Zuma who was scheduled to travel to the west of the country.
The ash cloud has circled the globe and has, in the last two weeks, disrupted flights in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand.
Deon Cloete, General Manager of Cape Town International Airport, said on Saturday evening: “Airports Company South Africa would like to advise all passengers travelling today and in the next few days to contact their airline in order to confirm their flight details, as volcanic ash has been sighted in the Cape Town airspace and has impacted various flights in and out of Cape Town International, Port Elizabeth, and East London airports”.
Other South African airports will be affected as well. ACSA and the Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company are monitoring the situation and will update travellers as and when new information becomes available, concluded the release.
The South African tourist industry is also concerned about the impact of the volcanic ash cloud.
“The volcano sent a massive plume of ash around the Southern Hemisphere, delaying flights out of many airports and causing inconvenience for thousands of passengers. It is still too early to gauge the ash cloud's impact on tourism in Cape Town. We are expecting a marginal and short-term knock-on effect on tourism arrivals to the Mother City and are in close contact with ACSA to bring the latest updates to the tourism industry” said Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism.
In Santiago the Chilean flag carrier Lan reported that as of next Tuesday the suspended flights to Australia and New Zealand will be re-established.
Passengers left stranded were informed that they will be redistributed in the six weekly flights or Lan to Oceania.
The announcement coincides with the Chilean government authorization for residents displaced by the volcano to return to their homes, while farmers in the area will be receiving aid and forage to help feed livestock. Fields are covered with a blanket of volcanic ash impeding cattle and sheep to feed.
The Chilean National Atomic Energy Commission released a report saying the ashes found in Bariloche, Argentina, are comprised of 77.4% silicon dioxide, 9.7% aluminium dioxide and 5.4% sodium dioxide.