As the Pavlof Volcano spews out massive ash plumes into the sky, state airlines on Monday decided to cancel 41 flights to and from six cities across Alaska.

All flights operating to and from Barrow, Kotzebue, Fairbanks, Bethel, Prudhoe Bay and Nome are cancelled until officials are able to assess weather conditions after Tuesday.

At least 3,300 passengers will be affected by the delay. Pets traveling as cargo and unaccompanied minors are embargoed until weather conditions in the state – particularly in Southwestern Alaska – improve, Alaska Airlines said in a travel advisory.

The 8,261-foot Pavlof Volcano erupted on Sunday afternoon, sending out ash as high as 20,000 feet. Officials have raised volcano alert levels to the highest, and aviation code to "red."

Pressure sensors monitored by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) revealed that eruptions continued overnight. By Monday morning, the ash plume rose to 37,000 feet and 50 mph winds stretched it over 400 miles into the state -- headed north and east.

"It's right in the wheelhouse of a lot of flights crisscrossing Alaska," said Chris Waythomas who is part of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Waythomas said the volcanic eruption can go on for hours to days or it can go on for much longer periods of time.

"It won't erupt continuously for many months or a year. It will be intermittent," added Waythomas. "But the eruption cycle could go on for a while, or it could abruptly shut off and be done tomorrow."

Ash from the volcano poses significant threat to aircrafts because it can damage engines and limits visibility. USGS scientists have compared the effect of flying into angular and sharp volcanic ash to flying into a sand blaster.

Because of that, Alaska Airlines Director of Operations John Ladner said the company will simply not "fly where ash is present."

"We have suspended evening flying in these affected cities and will resume operations when we can confirm through weather and pilot reports that it's safe to fly," said Ladner.

Alaska Airlines passengers who purchased tickets on or before March 28 for March 28 to 29 flights may rebook prior to March 31, officials said. It will not incur a change fee or any additional costs. Passengers may also apply for a refund for the unused ticket.

Meanwhile, employees are stocking up on air filters and plastic to cover engines and airplane parts, as well as personal protective gear.

Marilyn Romano, regional vice president of Alaska Airlines, said the company's top priority is to take care of passengers and employees in the affected areas.

"We know our customers depend on us to get them where they need to go and we apologize for the inconvenience this is causing them," added Romano.

 Flying over Volcano eruption in Aleutian Islands

A photo posted by Colt Snapp (@coltsnapp) on Mar 27, 2016 at 10:40pm PDT

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.