Ash cloud hits Bali flights again
AT LEAST eight flights between Singapore and Bali were cancelled or delayed yesterday morning, as ash spewing from Indonesia's erupting Mount Raung forced the closure of Denpasar airport just a day after it reopened.
The airport, a gateway to the popular resort island of Bali, reopened at around 4pm, but dozens of flights had already been cancelled or delayed.
Two Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights were rescheduled till later yesterday, a spokesman for the Changi Airport Group told The Straits Times.
The suspension of flights has caused fresh travel chaos for weary holidaymakers stranded on the holiday island, Agence France-Press (AFP) reported.
One Tigerair flight to Bali and one returning from Bali to Singapore were rescheduled, the airline said. One AirAsia flight from Singapore to Bali was diverted and another was delayed, the airline said on Facebook. After Bali airport reopened yesterday, AirAsia announced that services from and to the island were resuming.
Virgin Australia and Jetstar issued statements earlier yesterday, cancelling flights operating from Denpasar airport, while Indonesian flag carrier Garuda confirmed all its flights would be axed until 4pm.
An Air New Zealand flight to Bali had to turn back after it was delayed for almost 12 hours, the NZCity website reported. Another flight yesterday was cancelled.
Mount Raung on the main island of Java has been erupting for weeks, and on Thursday a cloud of drifting ash forced the closure of Bali airport and four others amid the peak holiday season.
The airport at Bali reopened on Saturday as the ash drifted away, allowing some passengers to board flights home and others to arrive.
But yesterday morning, the Transport Ministry announced that winds had once again pushed the cloud over the resort island, and that the airport would be closed again until at least 4pm.
However, the new closure lasted just a few hours and the airport was reopened in the afternoon as the ash shifted, the Indonesian government said.
An airport on Java serving domestic routes was also closed, Transport Ministry spokesman J. A. Barata said. The other three - originally closed on Thursday, including the international airport on popular Lombok island, east of Bali - are now open, AFP reported.
The closure has caused chaos at Denpasar airport, with thousands of stranded holidaymakers packing the terminals, anxiously staring at departure boards, and sitting and sleeping on the floor, AFP reported.
About 300 flights to and from Bali were cancelled on Friday. Airport officials could not confirm how many flights would be axed due to the new shutdown.
Indonesian government vulcanologist Gede Suantika said that Mount Raung continued to erupt yesterday, spewing ash up to 1,000m into the air, and the wind had in the morning pushed the cloud of dust towards Bali, some 140km away, AFP reported.