Airport in Bali reopens to flights

AP
Indonesian authorities on Wednesday announced the reopening of Ngurah Rai International Airport on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
AP
Xinhua

Tourists take photos of Mount Agung’s eruption on Wednesday.

Indonesian authorities on Wednesday announced the reopening of Ngurah Rai International Airport on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, which had been forced to close since Monday.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said, however, that the danger had not passed. He urged anyone within the exclusion zone of Mount Agung, which erupted on Monday, to leave “for the sake of their safety.”

on Wednesday, volcanic ash reaching 7,600 meters in the air began drifting south and southeast of Mount Agung, leaving clean space above the Bali airport for planes to land and take off, said an airport spokesman.

Monday’s closure of the airport, which had been handlion Wednesdayng more than 400 flights a day, had disrupted travel for tens of thousands of people trying to enter or leave Bali. 

Thick ash particles are hazardous to aircraft and can choke engines.

Despite the all-clear from Indonesian authorities, flights are unlikely to rapidly return to normal levels, and a change in the direction of the volcancic ash cloud or a new more powerful eruption could force the airport’s closure again.

Widodo ordered all concerned ministries and agencies, as well as the military and police, to help Bali’s government to deal with the disaster.

“I hope there will be no victims hit by the eruption,” he said.

Authorities have told 100,000 people to leave an area extending up to 10 kilometers in places from the volcano as it belches gray and white plumes. 

About 40,000 people were now staying in 225 shelters, said the Disaster Mitigation Agency in Karangasem. But tens of thousands more remained in their homes because they felt safe or did not want to abandon their land and livestock.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and has more than 120 active volcanoes.

Chinese airlines on Wednesday began sending additional flights to Bali to repatriate Chinese travelers after the volcanic eruption led to the suspension of air travel to and from the Indonesian island. 

China Eastern, China Southern and Xiamen airlines said they dispatched six passenger Aircraft to Bali.

The Chinese consulate in Denpasar on Wednesday asked Chinese travelers to change their travel schedules and contact the Chinese airlines for flights home. 

It has set up a consultancy center for travelers at the airport.

on Wednesday, China Eastern Airlines sent two Airbus 330s aircraft from Beijing and two A330s from Shanghai to Bali. MU781 and MU781A took off at 6:32pm and 7:02pm from the Capital International Airport, while MU5029 and MU502Q left the Pudong International Airport at 6:34pm and 8:21pm.

The airline said the four flights were expected to depart Bali at 7am and 9:30am today.

It said 1,480 travelers had booked the China Eastern flight tickets from Bali to China. 

The carrier said it had issued an “emergency response” after the volcanic eruption to allow all passengers on Bali-related routes to change their flights or get refunds within two weeks.

China Southern Airlines said it had 1,297 passengers stranded on Bali. 

The Guangzhou-based carrier said it sent two A330s from Guangzhou and Shenzhen to Bali at 7pm on Wednesday. Both aircraft landed at Bali’s airport at 11pm.

Xiamen Airlines said it would soon restore its returning flights to Bali to aid stranded passengers, as well as sending additional aircraft.

The three Chinese airlines have canceled outbound flights to the island. 

On Monday, two China Eastern flights from Shanghai and Beijing to Bali were diverted to land in Singapore after the volcano erupted, said the carrier.


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