Volcanic eruption forces closure of airports in Bali, other areas

Volcanic eruption forces closure of airports in Bali, other areas

Mount Rinjani. (ANTARA/Eric Ireng)

The airport will remain closed until Friday at around 8:45 a.m."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Balis Ngurah Rai International Airport, Lomboks Selaparang Airport in West Nusa Tenggara, and Banyuwangis Blimbingsari Airport in East Java, among others, have been closed due to Mount Barujaris eruption in Lombok since Tuesday (November 3).

This is the second blow to Balis tourism industry this year after the eruption of Mount Raung located in East Java, which had also forced the temporary closure of the Ngurah Rai airport in July.

The Bali airport authorities have closed down the airport since November 3 and have extended its closure period until Friday morning (November 6) as volcanic ash plumes from the erupting Mount Barujari, a cone inside Mount Rinjanis large volcanic caldera, are still affecting the airports operations.

"The airport will remain closed until Friday at around 8:45 a.m. Central Indonesian Standard Time (WITA)," General Manager of the Angkasa Pura I of the Ngurah Rai international Airport Trikora Harjo stated in Kuta, Bali on Nov. 5.

The decision on the closure was based on information received from the Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) and Darwin-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) of Australia that volcanic ash has drifted to the west or over Bali Island, particularly the airport area.

The transportation ministry has issued a Notice to Airman (Notam) No. A 2479/15 regarding the closure.

Since the morning of November 3 until November 5, some 692 international and domestic flights were cancelled following the Ngurah Rai airports closure.

"Our airport is currently affected by the volcanic ash being spewed by the erupting Mount Barujari," Chief of the Regional IV Airport Authorities Yusfandri Gona stated on Nov. 4.

The cancellations have affected 183 arrivals and 189 departures of domestic flights.

With regard to the international flights, 157 scheduled arrivals and 163 departures have been cancelled.

Five flights were diverted from Bali to Jakarta and Surabaya. Singapore Airlines SQ-948 serving Singapore-Denpasar (Bali) route, AirAsia AWQ-833 serving the Bangkok-Denpasar route, Garuda Indonesia GA-857 serving the Hong Kong-Denpasar route, and the Emirates 398 flight serving the Dubai-Denpasar route were diverted to the Cengkareng Airport, Jakarta.

AirAsia 545 serving the Perth-Denpasar route landed at the airport in Surabaya.

Meanwhile, Dutch airline KLM 835 serving the Singapore-Denpasar route, MXD-308 serving the Kuala Lumpur-Denpasar route, and AXM-374 serving the Kuala Lumpur-Denpasar route decided to return to their bases.

On the previous day (Nov. 3), Australian airlines - Jetstar and Virgin airlines, had cancelled flights to and from Denpasar, Bali Island, due to the volcanic ash cloud arising from the erupting Mount Barujari.

Due to the volcanic ash cloud arising from Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia, the conditions in the vicinity of Denpasar Airport, Bali, are unsafe for flying, the Jetstar management noted in a statement published on its official website.

"As a result, Jetstar has cancelled some flights on Tuesday (November 4) (AEST) to and from Bali following assessment of the latest information from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre," it noted.

Among the flights affected by the volcano included Jetstar Flight No. JQ-44 destined for Melbourne and Virgin Australia Flight No. VA-060 to Perth.

Due to the airport shutdown on November 4, thousands of passengers were stranded at the Ngurah Rai airport, the only air transportation gateway to Bali, which is one of the worlds most popular tourist destinations.

PT Angkasa Pura I, the Ngurah Rai airports operator in Denpasar, has provided buses for stranded passengers.

"We have readied four buses to transport passengers intending to avail land transportation," Trikora Harjo, stated.

The buses would take the passengers to the Ubung bus terminal in Denpasar and to the Padangbai harbor in Karangasem District for people wanting to undertake their journey aboard ferries.

"We have readied the buses since the first day of the closure, on Tuesday (Nov. 3)," he remarked.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported that Mount Barujari located in the East, Central, and North Lombok districts erupted on Nov. 3.

The mount spewed volcanic ash reaching a height of around 3.5 thousand meters dpal, or one thousand meters above the crater of Barujari.

The ash has blanketed the Lombok strait, Bali Island, the Bali strait, and Banyuwangi, according to monitoring data of Terra satellite.

Seven villages in North Lombok District are affected by the volcanic ash.

The West Nusa Tenggara authorities have distributed some four thousand face masks to the local inhabitants.

The alert status of Mount Barujari, is currently at level II (advisory).

Bali Deputy Governor Ketut Sudikerta who paid an impromptu visit to the airport on Nov. 5 said the closure of the airport had negative impact on Balis tourism but the local government could do nothing as it is caused by a natural disaster.

In the meantime, the Blimbingsari airport in Banyuwangi has been shut down since Nov. 4 at 8:30 a.m. local time.

In a statement, a spokesman of the transportation ministry, JA Barata, informed about the closure of the airport due to the eruption of Mount Barujari.

The Notohadinegoro airport in Jember, East Java, was not closed but national flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia decided to cancel a flight serving the Surabaya-Jember route to avoid the impact of the volcanic ash, according to the manager of the Jember airport, Edi Purnomo.

Besides, Garuda Indonesia also cancelled 86 flights from and to the Ngurah Rai international airport the Blimbingsari airport.

"Based on a notice to affirm (NOTAM) from the airport authorities, Garuda Indonesia has decided to stop its flight operations there for the time being as the volcanic ash spreading in the wake of the eruption of Mount Rinjani can endanger flight safety," Garuda Indonesia Vice President for Corporate Communications Benny Butarbutar said in a statement.

The 86 cancelled flights included 26 flights for Denpasar-Jakarta route, eight flights for Denpasar-Surabaya route, eight flights for Denpasar-Yogyakarta routes, three flight routes for Denpasar-Kupang route, three flights for Denpasar-Makassar route, two flights for Denpasar-Bandung route, and two flights for Denpasar-Palembang route.

Other cancelled flights were: two flights for Denpasar-Manado route, four flights for Denpasar-Tambolaka route, four flights for Denpasar-Melbourne route, two flights for Denpasar-Sydney route, four flights for Denpasar-Perth route, four flights for Denpasar-Narita, four flights for Denpasar-Kansai , and two flights for Denpasar-Seoul, two flights for Denpasar-Hong Kong, two flights for Banyuwangi-Surabaya, two flights for Denpasar-Beijing.
(T.F001/INE/KR-BSR)

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