Flight delays, cancellations ahead of Cyclone Winston

(File)
(File)

Fiji Airways says its flights will be affected over the next few days, but has offered a waiver of fees for passengers having second thoughts.

It says Fiji is expected to receive destructive winds and heavy rain starting early tomorrow morning up until early next week.

To help passengers affected by Cyclone Winston, Fiji Airways and Fiji Link are extending a waiver of fees. This applies to passengers holding a valid ticket issued before February 19 for travel between February 19 and February 25.

All Fiji Airways and Fiji link flights have been cancelled for tomorrow and Monday.

 

Air New Zealand has cancelled flights in and out of Nadi, Fiji, tomorrow because of tropical Cyclone Winston.

A total of 758 evacuation centres have been activated as the category-five cyclone moves closer to Fiji today, FijiLive reports.

The cyclone is estimated to have average winds of 220km/h and gusts to 315km/h.

Flights to Nadi out of Auckland by carriers Fiji Airlines and others were cancelled today, according to the Auckland International Airport website. A Fiji Airlines flight from Nadi landed in Auckland just after 4pm.

Air NZ has cancelled two flights from Auckland to Nadi and two flights from Nadi to Auckland tomorrow.

Weatherwatch.co.nz says computer models are struggling to predict the path of Cyclone Winston.

"There's certainly a chance the storm could 'wobble' a bit from the predicted course - but the window for change is getting smaller and smaller with each passing hour," the forecaster says.

"To add to the seriousness, the track of Winston is now looking further north than previous days. This places it not only right amongst the most popular parts of Fiji, but it also keeps the cyclone in the highest category - category five."

The cyclone could ultimately affect New Zealand but the focus is currently on Fiji, weatherwatch.co.nz says.

However, managing director of Flight Centre New Zealand David Coombes is not encouraging anyone to cancel or delay their flights at this point, but to speak to a travel expert.

"It's still a great time to go to Fiji, there's still some great deals to be had, so my recommendation would be to book, keep an eye on the situation, but because of these circumstances also take travel insurance when you go so you're protected," he says.

He says the Flight Centre hasn't had any cancellations so far.

"If you're going to go to Fiji, they know how to handle a cyclone over there. The authorities are well prepared, the resorts are well prepared, do what you're told and you'll be fine."

Climate manager at the Fiji Met Service Mr Ravind Kumar anticipates that on its current track, the cyclone will be 155km west of Kabuni and 130km north of Suva at 9pm tonight (local time).

Looking ahead to the next 24 hours, the Met Service expects it to be 170 north-west of Suva at 9am tomorrow.

"A the moment we see that the tropical Cyclone Winston is just to the east of Fiji and it is effecting the northern Lau group and is expected to continue to move westward," says Mr Kumar.

He says at the moment it is just the islands in the northern Lau group affected, but it is going to move towards the western areas.

"This system has destructive hurricane force winds and when we compare with Cyclone Pam it had similar winds, and the massive destruction that was caused with Pam…we can expect the damages in its path will be quite extensive," he says.

"You can imagine the strength of tropical Cyclone Winstone, and it is moving closer and closer to more populated areas."

Newshub. / NZN