Guatemala City airport closed as abrasive volcanic ash coats planes

A Copa Airlines plane is dusted in volcanic ash
A Copa Airlines plane is dusted in volcanic ash at the La Aurora international airport in Guatemala City on Tuesday.
(Moises Castillo / Associated Press)

A shift in wind blew ash from an eruption at the Pacaya volcano over Guatemala City on Tuesday, and authorities closed the airport as ash coated runways and parked planes.

The 8,373-foot volcano, just 30 miles south of Guatemala’s capital, has been active since early February.

Civil Aviation Director Francis Argueta did not say how long the closure would last. Volcanic ash is highly abrasive and can damage airplane engines and other mechanical devices.

Tourists frequently hike up to visit Pacaya’s peak, but those trips have been temporarily canceled.


Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, which erupted in 2018, emitting a fast-moving avalanche of lava that killed at least 110 people and left about 200 missing. Pacaya had an explosive blast in 2010 that killed a reporter and two local people.