La Aurora Airport in Guatemala closed due to Pacaya Volcano eruption, causing cancellations and delays for travelers.
Debido al cambio de dirección del viento de sur a norte y el incremento de la actividad volcánica del Pacaya, existe presencia de arena volcánica en el Aeropuerto La Aurora; razón por la que, cuidando la seguridad operacional se han cerrado operaciones. Estaremos actualizando. pic.twitter.com/9q1HHzwKHi
— Francis Argueta Aguirre (@FrancisArguetaA) March 23, 2021
If you’re trying to get to (or leave) Guatemala today by air, you’re going to have a problem. The General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC) announced this morning that La Aurora international airport will close due to ash fall from the erupting Volcan Pacaya.
“Due to the change in wind direction from south to north and the increase in volcanic activity in Pacaya, there is a presence of volcanic sand at La Aurora airport. Operations are now closed for reasons of operational safety,” said DGAC head Francis Argueta.
Videos and photos taken this morning show the runway, terminal, and grounded planes covered with ash and volcanic sand.
#ComunicadoOficial || ⚠️ CIERRE TEMPORAL DEL AEROPUERTO INTERNACIONAL LA AURORA ⚠️
Medida fue tomada para resguardar la seguridad operacional del AILA, debido a la caída de ceniza volcánica. pic.twitter.com/U9X4DZLbSZ
— DGAC Guatemala (@guatemala_dgac) March 23, 2021
Volcan Pacaya has been in a state of high activity since early February, it’s first major eruption since 2010.
Since the activity started, Guatemala City has avoided the worst of the ash, but the wind changed last night. Right now, Guatemala’s most populated area is right in the path of the fallout. Streets, vechicles, and homes, are all covered in ash.
Pacaya’s ash columns are rising 3,500 to 5,000 meters and dropping debris up to 50 km away.
Desde la ciudad de Guatemala captaron el momento exacto en que el volcán de Pacaya lanzó columnas gruesas de ceniza. Según CONRED, el patrón eruptivo del volcán continúa en niveles altos, por lo que no se descarta nuevos pulsos de incremento en las próximas horas. pic.twitter.com/iFIAsIKE4Y
— TCS Noticias (@tcsnoticias) March 23, 2021
If you’re traveling to Guatemala today, chances are they’ll divert your flight.
According to Agla, the Guatemalan Airline Association, a flight coming from Los Angeles, California to Guatemala has already been diverted to El Salvador. A Volaris flight from Costa Rica is also cancelled and waiting in San Jose.
Planes trying to leave La Aurora Airport are also stuck on the ground. This includes Delta to Atlanta, two American Airlines planes trying to get to Miami and Dallas, Copa to Panama City, United Airlines (for those trying to get to Houson), and Avianca (trying to get to San Salvador).,
A DHL cargo flight from Panama to Guatemala via El Salvador is staying in San Salvador for the time being. Fedex has a scheduled flight today from Miami, but will wait instead.
Travelers trying to get to or leave from Guatemala today should contact their airlines.
James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.