Flights to and from airports in Prince Rupert and Terrace were cancelled on April 13 due to plumes of ash from a volcanic eruption in Russia impacting northwest British Columbia.
Prince Rupert Airport Manager Michael Pucci stated in an email to The Northern View, YPR could not comment on the cancelled flights as they were not provided a specific reason by Air Canada for the Prince Rupert disruptions. However, Pucci stated YPR had posted on their social media that Environment Canada stated there was ash in the northern B.C. and Alaskan airspace, which may result in flight cancellations across the province.
“If it is indeed ash in our airspace and that is the reason for cancelled flights, this is the right decision to cancel, Pucci said.
“Ash particles are sharp and can clump. If they entered an airplane engine, it could damage the engines.”
The Prince Rupert airport manager stated while the Q400 planes that service the city fly 20,000 to 25,000 feet above and there may be no ash directly overhead of the Digby Island airport, ash and particles may still be along the flight path.
Additionally, other airports in the Northwest were also affected.
Central Mountain Air noted disruptions out of Terrace and Smithers airports, while Northwest Terrace Airport Manager Carman Hendry said they were constantly assessing the situation, but flights will likely be cancelled April 13, 14 and 15.
So far, there have not been any cancellations at the Smithers airport.
Hendry emphasized that Environment Canada needs to confirm that it is safe to fly before they can resume flying.
An Environment Canada spokesperson said volcanic ash, which is aloft in the sky and not a threat to residents at the surface, will linger for several hours across the Northcoast but will become less concentrated as time goes on.
The impact of the eruption is not just limited to the airline industry but also to the local economies. Terrace is a major transportation hub for the northwest region of British Columbia and Prince Rupert relies on flights in and out of the city. This disruption will likely have an impact on businesses and industries that require air transportation.
Passengers who have been affected by the cancellations are advised to contact their airlines for further information and to make alternative travel arrangements.
The eruption on the far eastern Kamchatka peninsula on Tuesday has caused volcanic ash to spread across the Pacific, affecting air travel across the region. Airlines are constantly monitoring the situation and are taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of their passengers and crews, they said.
– with files from K-J Millar and Deb Meissener