Eruptions from Bali’s Mount Agung this weekend forced the closure of Bali’s international airport, causing the cancellation of about 445 flights, and stranding tens of thousands of travelers.
Over the weekend, Mount Agung, located on the southern tip of the island, began spewing particulates into the air as high as 30,000 feet. As a result, Ngurah Rai International Airport, the Indonesian island’s main airport in the capital of Denpasar, was closed early Monday morning as emergency management advisories were issued regarding the potential for the particulates to damage jet engines and down aircraft.
On its Twitter feed and website, Cathay Pacific noted that “special ticketing arrangements and waivers” apply for its Monday flights. Other carriers were announcing similar cancellation policies. Qantas has canceled its flight from Sydney to Denpasar for Tuesday.
The airport is not forecasting a time when it will reopen, and the Indonesian government is arranging bus and ferry connections to get tourists off the island. Cathy Pacific stated that “the situation remains volatile and can change very quickly,” and advised passengers to check back often.
Denpasar’s airport is the second busiest in Indonesia, so other airports in the region are reporting delays and cancellations. FlightAware is reporting that 232 flights are delayed at the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, about 600 miles west of Bali.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre stated that “a small amount of ash has fallen at Denpasar Airport and across Bali's south east. Eruptions and ash falls are likely to continue for at least the next 24 hours.”
Many tourists are looking at expensive fares for a ferry from Gilimanuk port to Java’s Banyuwangi island to the west. From there, travelers can take a car, train or plane to Jakarta for international connections.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s tourism ministry said member hotels of the Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association will provide a night’s free accommodation to guests affected by the airport closure.
Bali is Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, attracting about 5 million visitors in 2016. According to local authorities, tourism this fall has been hurt by Mount Agung’s eruptions, which started in September.