Eruptions from Indonesia’s Mount Agung volcano has forced the closure of Denpasar’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport and disrupted the travel plans of thousands of passengers as airlines including Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia cancel flights to the popular tourist destination.
The volcano, located some 75km north east of the airport, began erupting on November 21. Those eruptions then spewed ash into the atmosphere up to a height of 4,000m over the weekend, which led to some flight cancellations on Saturday and Sunday.
The situation has now escalated, with Indonesian authorities lifting the status from orange to red and closing the airport. Some local residents in the vicinity of the volcano have also been evacuated.
Virgin Australia said its Sydney-Denpasar-Sydney and Brisbane-Denpasar-Brisbane services for Monday had been cancelled.
“The Agung Volcano Observatory’s aviation colour code is currently red, indicating that further eruption is imminent or underway with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere likely,” Virgin Australia said on its website.
“Due to the significant volcanic ash and current weather conditions, Denpasar Airport is now closed and we have cancelled today’s flights to and from Bali.
“The safety of our guests and crew is our highest priority and our team of meteorologists continue to monitor the situation in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.”
Qantas’s daily Sydney-Denpasar-Sydney rotation with Boeing 737-800s has also been cancelled.
“We know that this is frustrating for customers but we will always put safety before schedule,” Qantas said on its website.
“Our senior pilots and operations team will be making further assessments for flying conditions with information provided by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.”
And Jetstar said all its services between Australia and Bali scheduled for Monday had been cancelled.
“Flying conditions in Bali have worsened this morning due to the ash cloud from the Mount Agung volcano,” Jetstar said on its website.
“Once conditions improve and flights resume, we will operate additional recovery flights.”
Nearby Lombok Airport was also closed due to the ash cloud.