Bali reopens airport after volcanic eruption causes flight cancellations

Bali reopens airport after volcanic eruption causes flight cancellations

Bali volcano as seen from plane
Mount Agung as seen from a passing plane. (Image: Reuters)

DENPASAR, Indonesia: Bali reopened its international airport on Friday (Jun 29) afternoon after a volcanic eruption on the Indonesian resort island disrupted hundreds of flights and left thousands stranded. 

Ngurah Rai airport was originally scheduled to be closed from 3am to at least 7pm on Friday after a pilot report detected volcanic ash as high as 23,000 feet following Mount Agung's eruption on Thursday.

Bali volcano eruption
This handout picture taken on Jun 29, 2018 and released by Indonesia's Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the accident mitigation agency, shows Mount Agung erupting in eastern Bali. (Photo: AFP/Handout/Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana) 

"Based on the meteorology agency prediction, the volcanic ash will reach the airport on Friday morning," airport spokesman Yanus Suprayogi said in a statement early on Friday, adding that a possible extension of the airport closure after 7pm would be reviewed.

The airport announced later in the afternoon that it had reopened at 2.30pm, and that operations "should be back to normal soon". 

The eruption of Mount Agung in eastern Bali on Thursday triggered at least 280 flight cancellations including those operated by Malaysia-based AirAsia and Australia's JetStar.

The disruption has affected more than 15,700 travellers.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) also rescheduled its flights between Singapore and Denpasar.

SIA passengers travelling to Bali between Thursday and Friday may also be able to rebook or request a refund of their tickets, it said in a Facebook post. 

Ash is dangerous for planes as it makes runways slippery and can be sucked into their engines.

Despite the eruption the volcano's status has not been raised by Indonesia's volcanology agency and remained at alert level, while the Volcano Observatory Notice For Aviation has issued an orange level warning.

Mount Agung rumbled back to life last year and has been erupting periodically since.

Mount Agung volcano erupts during the night, as seen from Datah village, Karangasem Regency in Bali
Mount Agung volcano erupts during the night, as seen from Datah village, Karangasem Regency in Bali, Indonesia on Jun 29, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Johannes P Christo)

The volcano's eruption threat reared its head again in November, sparking travel chaos and pounding Bali's lucrative tourism industry and its wider economy.

There is a 4km no-go zone around Agung's peak.

Agung's last major eruption in 1963 killed around 1,600 people.

Indonesia is the world's most active volcanic region and lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activities.

Source: AFP/de

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