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Mon, Aug 11, 2008

Alaska Airlines Cancels 41 Flights Due To Volcanic Ash

Things Seem To Be Returning To Normal Now

Alaska Airlines announced Monday it cancelled flights to and from Adak, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, Alaska, late Sunday and early Monday morning. The flights were cancelled as a safety precaution related to the pattern of ash at altitude created by the eruption of Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutians Islands last week.

As of midnight Pacific time, 41 flights were cancelled -- including flights between Alaska and Denver, Los Angeles, Portland OR, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. The airline is monitoring the ash pattern on a continuous basis and hopes to resume flights later on Monday.

"We recognize these cancellations will significantly impact our customers intending to travel to or from Alaska," said Glenn Johnson, executive vice president of airports, maintenance and engineering. "These decisions are guided by our commitment to safety, and we are making every effort to re-accommodate passengers whose flight schedules have been disrupted."

Things seemed to be returning to normal by Monday afternoon, with Alaska adding flights to accommodate stranded passengers. Officials with other airlines serving Alaska -- including Continental, Delta and United Airlines -- told Reuters some of their flights had been cancelled Sunday and early this morning, but things were now back on track.

If ingested through an airliner's turbofans, heavy concentrations of ash may cause flameouts due to the caking effect of the material on turbine compressor blades and fuel injectors. Lower concentrations can severely reduce thrust, and lead to costly blade replacements and other pricey maintenance.

FMI: www.alaskaair.com

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