Improved conditions have allowed Virgin Australia and Jetstar to operate flights to and from Bali and bring back travellers left stranded due to the Mount Raung ash cloud, with Qantas also pitching in to help return Australians home.
Both Virgin and Jetstar say conditions at the airport on Tuesday are safe for flying, but caution that the Mount Raung volcano remains active and could again disrupt flights if wind conditions change.
Qantas is assisting to return stranded passengers with two relief flights planned for Tuesday and Wednesday.
An empty Boeing 737-800 was due to fly empty from Perth on Tuesday night and bring passengers back to the West Australian capital in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The second relief flight was scheduled for July 15, Qantas said in a statement on Tuesday.
Also, Qantas said it would “continue to operate flights on Jetstar’s domestic and international network, to free up Jetstar’s high capacity wide-body aircraft to bring more customers back from Bali”.
Virgin has scheduled 18 flights either to or from Bali on Tuesday, including an Airbus A330-200 service from Perth.
Although likely just a one-off, Bali will be just the second international destination for Virgin’s A330s, which mainly operate between Perth and Australia’s east coast capitals and to Nadi, Fiji, on a seasonal basis. The other Bali services will be flown with Boeing 737-800s.
“Please note that Mt Raung continues to erupt and we have been advised that winds are forecast to blow in an unfavourable direction over the next few days, so it is likely that operations could be disrupted again,” Virgin said in an update on its website on Tuesday.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely. The safety of our guests and crew is our highest priority and we will keep customers updated as new information becomes available.”
Meanwhile, Jetstar has scheduled 18 flights for Bali on Tuesday using a mixture of Boeing 787-8, Airbus A330-200 and A320 equipment.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation with the Volcanic Ash Authority Centre (VAAC), and cancellations may occur if conditions prevent safe operations,” Jetstar said on its website.
“While we regret the frustration recent cancellations have caused, the safety of our customers and crew is always our first priority, and appreciate your understanding.”
Virgin is also offering those booked to travel to Bali between July 8-28 the option of changing their flights to another destination.
The airline said on Monday passengers could use the value of their original Bali fares towards one of 12 new destinations – Port Vila, Nadi, Apia, Phuket, Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Hamilton Island, Whitsunday Coast, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast.
And if their new fare is less than the Bali tickets, the balance can be used towards accommodation or kept as a credit for future flights.