June 19, 2008

Thick Fog Strands Travellers at Airport

By MOODY, Gary

AN air of quiet resignation lay thicker than the fog that disrupted flights at Invercargill Airport yesterday morning, stranding about 100 people.

Christchurch and Wellington airports were also closed, with two Air New Zealand flights from Christchurch intended for Invercargill not getting off the runway.

Stewart Island Flights had a plane on the island that could not return to Invercargill, stranding six people temporarily.

The Invercargill Airport terminal was filled with people trying to rearrange their day, while others accepted their fate and made themselves comfortable in the lounge to wait for the fog to lift.

Ella O'Brian, 6, and her dad Charlie arrived at the airport at 7am for their flight, hoping to be in Christchurch for an appointment with a surgeon at 11.15am. They were forced to reschedule for December.

Mr O'Brian said he would still take his daughter when the fog lifted, even if it was just for a day trip.

Arriving at 5.45am to catch a 6.15am flight to Auckland for 10 days' work moving machinery for New Zealand Peat, Jason Smith was meant to start as soon as he arrived.

Instead he was left to catch up on some sleep straddled between two airport seats.

Jody Baylis, from Winton, had her 10.50am flight to New Plymouth cancelled. She was flying to see her parents and deliver to her father his favourite delicacy, Bluff oysters.

Jeff Waters had been hoping to fly to Wellington on the 9.45am flight to see his daughter, who lives there with his brother, but was relaxed about the delay.

Invercargill Airport operations manager Eric Forsyth said the airport was running normally about noon. Queenstown Airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said fog had also disrupted Queenstown Airport.

The closure of Christchurch Airport had meant some flights did not arrive but by the afternoon it was returning to normal.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said four northbound flights were cancelled from Dunedin International Airport and incoming flights had also been affected. There were no flights between 7am and 10.30am because of the fog.


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