Volcanic eruption in Chile grounds flights | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Volcanic eruption in Chile grounds flights

Trapped in a hotel room in Johannesburg, city-based stockbroker Ashwin Kedia and his family spent the first day of their vacation on Friday making frantic phone calls to a travel agent in Mumbai and praying for air traffic to resume to Argentina.

mumbai Updated: Jun 11, 2011 01:25 IST
Soubhik Mitra

Trapped in a hotel room in Johannesburg, city-based stockbroker Ashwin Kedia and his family spent the first day of their vacation on Friday making frantic phone calls to a travel agent in Mumbai and praying for air traffic to resume to Argentina.

Ash clouds spewed by Chile’s Puyehue volcano, which erupted last week, have grounded hundreds flights to South America. Kedia and his family were scheduled to take a connecting flight to Argentina from Johannesburg.“He might have to take the first flight back to Mumbai on Saturday if the problem continues,” said Subhash Motwani, director, Compact Travels, Kedia’s travel consultant for the trip.

Travel agents said that traffic to South America from the city is negligible but the handful of city-based families scheduled to travel next week have high-end holidays on stake.

“Some trips might get postponed if the disruptions continue. But the level of anxiety is low because people are still unaware of the natural calamity,” said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI).

Andheri resident Tushar Patel has a business-cum-leisure trip to Brazil next week. “I am constantly in touch with the tour operators and my business associates in Rio. Trips to that end of the globe are very expensive. We don’t want to take any chances,” said the 43-year-old businessman.

Traffic to South America from the city had picked up last year following promotional tours by tourism boards of Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile.

Natural calamities have hindered air travel across the globe this year. Flights within Europe were partially disrupted for a couple of days last month owing to eruption of Iceland’s most active volcano, Grímsvötn.

Japan’s massive tsunami followed by the nuclear radiation scare in March, the floods in Australia and the earthquake in New Zealand were the other recent natural calamities that affected air travel of Mumbaiites.