Bali airport closed; UAE flights affected

Passengers sit around the international terminal at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar waiting for information of flight delays due to volcanic ash near Indonesia's resort island on July 10, 2015. Ash drifting from an Indonesian volcano closed five airports on July 10, including the one on the holiday island of Bali, causing about 250 flights to be cancelled and stranding thousands of holidaymakers. The international airport on nearby popular Lombok island was also among those closed late on July 9 as Mount Raung in East Java province spewed clouds of ash. (AFP)

Ash spewing from an Indonesian volcano closed Bali airport again Sunday just a day after it reopened, causing fresh travel chaos for weary holidaymakers stranded on the holiday island.

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 during peak holiday season, and four others.


The airport at Bali, a top international holiday destination that attracts millions of foreign tourists every year, reopened on Saturday as the ash drifted away, allowing some passengers to board flights home and others to arrive.

But Sunday morning, the transport ministry announced wind had once again pushed the cloud over the resort island and that the airport was being closed again until at least 4pm (0800 GMT).

"We will continue to monitor developments and decide if the closure will be extended later," transport ministry spokesman J.A. Barata told AFP.


UAE flights affected:

Meanwhile, holidaymakers from the UAE have also found their summer travel plans affected due to the ongoing situation in Bali.

Emirates has confirmed its flights have been affected due to the volcanic activity on the island, with delayed departures this week following changes in schedule and cancellations over the past couple of days.


An Emirates spokesperson confirmed the development on Sunday, stating: "Emirates' flights to and from Denpasar Airport in Bali on Sunday 12th and Monday 13th of July 2015 will incur a delayed departure time as an additional safety measure following the volcanic ash cloud.

"The flights will be delayed for a period of 11 hours from Dubai to Bali and 10 hours from Bali to Dubai to ensure that flights operating in and out of the city are conducted during daylight hours."'
The airline further stated that passengers are advised to check the airline’s website for the latest flight status.

Emirates launched direct flights to Bali on June 3 of this year.


Flights cancelled:

Another airport on Java serving domestic routes was also closed, he said. The other three originally closed Thursday, including the international airport on popular Lombok island, east of Bali, are now open.

Australian carriers Jetstar and Virgin said they were cancelling some flights to Bali on Sunday, while Indonesian flag carrier Garuda confirmed all its flights would be axed until 4:00 pm.


The disruption comes at a bad time, with many Australians stuck in Bali after heading there for the school break and millions of Indonesian tourists setting off on holiday ahead of the Muslim celebration of Eid next week.

The closure has caused chaotic scenes at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport, with thousands of stranded holidaymakers packing out the terminals, anxiously staring at the departure boards, and sitting and sleeping on the floor.


About 300 flights to and from Bali were cancelled Friday. Airport officials did not immediately know how many flights would be axed due to the new shutdown.

Indonesian government vulcanologist Gede Suantika said that Mount Raung continued to erupt Sunday, spewing ash up to 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) into the air.

"Our observation this morning showed that the winds had pushed the ash in a southeasterly direction towards Bali again," he added.


Australia's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre said winds were expected to blow the ash cloud away from the airport overnight or on Monday.

Authorities raised the alert status of Mount Raung, a 3,300-metre (10,800-foot) volcano, late last month to the second highest level after it began to spew lava and ash high into the air.

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