ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Travel chaos in Bali after eruption
Hundreds of both domestic and international flights were canceled on Friday as volcanic ash clouds from Mount Raung in East Java has forced the closure of five airports including major tourist gateway Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali, since Thursday night.
The Transportation Ministry’s air navigation director Novie Riyanto told a press conference on Friday that Bali airport, along with Notohadinegoro Airport in Jember and Blimbingsari Airport in Banyuwangi, both located in East Java, would remain closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, Lombok International Airport and Selaparang Airport in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, which had been closed since Thursday night, reopened on Friday afternoon, Novie said.
Novi added that the ministry would assist state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura I to handle stranded passengers, who were estimated to reach a total of 3,000 people.
“We have encouraged the passengers to choose other modes of transportation since the airports will not resume operations until the situation improves,” Novie said, adding that the volcanic activity might continue.
Data from Angkasa Pura I, which manages airports in the eastern part of the country, shows that a total of 316 flights were canceled at Ngurah Rai, comprising 168 domestic flights and 148 international flights.
Angkasa Pura I corporate secretary Farid Indra Nugraha said airlines serving routes to Denpasar that wished to return to base or divert to other airports managed by the operator would not be charged
“Airlines serving the Jakarta-Bali route wanting to divert the route to Surabaya, for instance, will not be charged with a landing fee, as long as they divert the flights to airports that we operate,” Farid told The Jakarta Post.
He said, however, the operator was still calculating the number of flights that were rerouted and returned to base since Thursday night.
National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has canceled 111 flights, including 20 international flights to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Narita, Kansai and Seoul. Meanwhile, Garuda’s low-cost arm Citilink canceled a total of 27 flights to Bali and Lombok.
“As of tonight we will continue canceling all flights to Bali and Lombok, but on Saturday, all flights to Lombok will resume as normal,” Garuda’s acting vice president for communications Ikhsan Rosan told the Post.
A total of 37 routes to Denpasar and 22 flights to Lombok operated by the country’s biggest budget carrier Lion Air have also been canceled due to the volcanic ash clouds.
“The canceled flights will be rescheduled to the next day and we will keep on monitoring the latest situation,” Lion Air’s corporate communications manager Andy M. Saladin said in a written statement.
Meanwhile, Malaysian budget airline AirAsia’s affiliate Indonesia AirAsia said in a statement that five domestic routes and eight international routes had been affected due to the temporary closure of the airports, while local carrier Sriwijaya Air and its affiliate Nam Air have also canceled several routes including those connecting Denpasar and cities in China
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