Volcanic eruption forces flight with large cargo of horses onboard to turn back


A flight from Amsterdam to Mexico had to turn back when it was over North America due volcanic activity, and the fact the aircraft had a large cargo of horses onboard.

KLM flight KL685 from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Mexico City had already crossed the Atlantic and was over New Brunswick in Canada when it turned around to head back to the Netherlands.

The diversion to its home base meant that passengers had spent more than 11 hours onboard just to land back where they started their journey.

The reason given for the return to KLM’s home base was “unfavourable flying conditions” above Mexico due to volcanic activity from Popocatepetl, which is just outside Mexico City.

It also transpired that there was a large cargo of horses onboard, which meant that the Boeing 747 aircraft couldn’t land at an alternative airport.

A KLM spokesperson told The Independent: “Due to a volcanic eruption in Mexico, the flight KL685 Amsterdam-Mexico returned to Schiphol on Thursday 28 November.

“The flight landed safely at Schiphol at 2.30am, where the passengers disembarked normally and have been taken care of in Amsterdam. They will be rebooked on an alternative flight.

“Landing at another airport was not possible, because of the visa requirements of passengers and as there was a large cargo of horses onboard.”

The Popocatepetl volcano, as seen from the Mexican city of Puebla (Hilda Rios/EPA)

It’s not the first time a volcanic eruption has forced the diversion of flights. In May 2018, thousands of travellers to and from Bali, Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur had their flights cancelled, delayed or diverted due to the eruption of Mount Merapi in central Java.

The 9,610ft volcano, the most active in Indonesia, erupted at 7.32am on the morning of Friday 11 May.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) said “ash rain” had fallen, “especially in the south to southwest of the peak crater of Mount Merapi”.

Fliers to and from Bali in Indonesia have also contended with cancelled flights and the closure of Denpasar airport when Mount Agung, in the centre of the holiday island, is particularly active.

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