With ash and other particulates continuing to endanger aircraft traveling to Bali, the local airport authority extended its closure for at least another 24 hours, causing flight cancellations and delays throughout the region, and stranding an estimated 160,000 tourists on the island paradise.
A Bali airport spokesman said that 443 flights are canceled today, Tuesday, affecting nearly 60,000 travelers, similar to the closure on Monday.
The airport’s closure is causing a ripple effect through the region, according to the website FlightAware, as nearly 400 flights are delayed today through Jakarta’s Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, and more than 260 flights are delayed through Kuala Lumpur’s airport.
On its Twitter feeds, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Australia announced they have canceled their Bali flights to Denpasar, Bali, through Wednesday, Nov. 29. Cathay Pacific has been communicating with travelers via SMS text messaging and email, the airline said, and that passengers who purchased tickets before Monday for its Bali flights and flying between Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 could reschedule their flights or get a refund.
Scene at Mengwi Bus Terminal Station.
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it “will resume flights into and out of Denpasar as soon as it receives confirmation on improved weather conditions and subject to reopening of the airport.”
Australian carrier JetStar was also actively using its Twitter feed to update passengers.
Thai Airways said it has canceled all Bali flights through Saturday, and is allowing ticket holders with flights from Nov. 26 to Dec. 10 to reschedule.
EVA Air and Qantas also have canceled flights.
On social media, travelers have been complaining about ineffective communications from the airlines and officials at Denpasar’s airport, which was initially closed Monday. The volcano is about 40 miles from the airport and the popular tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak.
Meanwhile, local residents are being impacted as the government has asked anyone living within about six miles of the volcano to evacuate. Estimates put that number of evacuees at between 90,000-100,000.
Travelers review their options
Based on Twitter and other social media comments, tourists scheduled for departures this week were scrambling to identify their best options. On Monday, the Governor of Bali Province mandated that hotels provide one night free to stranded passengers. Hotels responded by offering the free night and 50 percent off for a second night. Travelers were being directed to the Bali Tourism Board for more information about the lodging policy.
With cancellations being extended to a third day, it was not certain this morning what Bali hoteliers would do if the airport closure continued through the week. For example, the Grand Hyatt Bali Resort had last posted on its Facebook page on Nov. 26, showing a video that illustrated no impact from the ash emitting that day from Mount Agung.
Similarly, the Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali mentioned nothing about the property’s cancellation guidelines due to the Mount Agung situation on its Twitter or Facebook feeds, or on its website.
On its Facebook page, Club Med said that its Bali resort remained open, and advised incoming guests to “contact our travel advisors … or their preferred travel agent for further information. The safety of our guests is our priority, and the Club Med Bali team is providing all necessary support and assistance to any affected guests currently in resort. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as new information becomes available.”
Meanwhile, the Indonesian tourist board website provided pictures of the situation at the Mengwi Bus Terminal Station, which offers several options to Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, approximately 12 hours away.
The site advised visitors to “please contact your travel agents, online vendor or airline service for more information.”