Friday 17 June 2011

Message from Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, to Frequent Flyers

As you know, Qantas has responded to the dispersal of volcanic ash from the Mt Puyehue Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile by cancelling or rerouting a number of flights.

As a valued Frequent Flyer I want to let you know why we have made these decisions when other carriers, including Virgin and Air New Zealand, have continued to operate.

Qantas does not take the decision to cancel flights lightly. We understand that this causes significant disruptions for all our customers. We regret the inconvenience and we appreciate your patience. But safety is our first priority and we will never fly unless we are fully satisfied that it is safe to do so.

Volcanic ash cloud poses a significant threat to aircraft. It can enter an engine, turn into molten glass as a result of the high temperatures and potentially cause the engine to fail. Other risks include windscreens becoming opaque, contamination of cabin air and hydraulic systems and erosion of aircraft parts.

Our decision not to fly in the presence of volcanic ash is based on assessments by our Critical Operational Event Group, with advice from the Bureau of Meteorology and in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in Darwin.

Unlike the meteorological authorities in Europe, Australia's VAAC does not have the ability to calculate ash density so we are unable to access definitive measurements. Our policy is not to fly into areas where the concentration of volcanic ash is unknown. Without certainty about the density of the ash, we do not consider it safe to fly.

Again, we sincerely regret the inconvenience caused by these weather conditions.

We will continue to resume services to affected ports as soon as it is operationally appropriate to do so. You can find the latest flight updates on our Flight Status page.

Our Chief Pilot Captain Peter Wilson and Head of Integrated Operations Centre Alan Milne are expert members of the Qantas Critical Operational Event Group. You can watch a video of Peter and Alan discussing the rationale behind the Qantas decision to cancel or reroute some flights on Qantas' YouTube channel.

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