"We are prioritizing aviation safety. The airport will reopen once it is no longer affected by the eruption,"
Kupang (ANTARA) - The Frans Seda Maumere Airport in Sikka District, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Province, has not continued operations due to aviation safety considerations following the eruption of Mount Lewotobi Laki-laki in East Flores on January 1.

"The airport is closed for aviation safety reasons. It will reopen when it is no longer affected by volcanic ash that can endanger flight activities," Transportation Ministry's Director General of Air Transportation, Kristi Endah Murni, noted in a statement received in Kupang, NTT, on Thursday.

Since the eruption that elevated Mount Lewotobi's status from alert to standby on the first day of this year, the airport has ceased its operations.

The closure decision was made based on the results of observation conducted by the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) that shows that the airport is still blanketed by the mountain's volcanic ash.

Murni noted that the Transportation Ministry had instructed the Head of the Bali Region IV Airport Authority and Head of the Class II Airport Management Unit (UPBU) at the Frans Seda Airport to conduct intensive monitoring on the development of the eruption.

She also appealed to airlines to offer solutions to their passengers for the cancellation of their flights, including by providing options to refund, reschedule, and re-route to nearby airports.

"Such measures are expected to help passengers affected by the closure of the airport," she stated.

As a result of the airport's operations being ceased, six flights of Wings Air were cancelled on Thursday.

Meanwhile, nearby airports, such as Gewayantana Larantuka and Wunopito Lewoleba, are still operating as usual.

Murni expressed hope that the Frans Seda Airport would soon resume its operations and be freed from the effects of the eruption.

Head of the Class II UPBU at the Frans Seda Airport, Partahian Panjaitan, confirmed that the airport is still closed until Thursday, adding that the volcanic ash clouding the area could damage the air plane's engines.

"We are prioritizing aviation safety. The airport will reopen once it is no longer affected by the eruption," he emphasized.

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Translator: Fransiska M, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Arie Novarina
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