Indonesia will extend the closure of an international airport on popular Bali resort island to Thursday (Nov 5) due to ash from an erupting volcano, an official said Wednesday, grounding more than 100 flights.
Authorities had closed the Ngurah Rai International Airport late Tuesday due to a large ash cloud drifting from Mount Rinjani, an active volcano on the nearby island of Lombok.
“The airport remains closed until 8.45am tomorrow (Thursday). The wind has blown the volcanic ash towards Bali in such a way that it covers the sky around the airport, making conditions unsuitable for flying,” Bali airport official Yulfiadi told AFP.
A total of 106 flights on Wednesday were cancelled, including 59 international flights, Yulfiadi said, adding that the “situation is still under control”.
Australian airlines Virgin Australia and Jetstar had already cancelled all flights Tuesday, deeming conditions unsafe for flying, with Virgin also scrapping its roster for Wednesday.
Ash from a different volcano stranded thousands of passengers on Bali for days during the peak holiday season in July.
Air traffic is regularly disrupted by volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, which sits on a belt of seismic activity running around the basin of the Pacific Ocean and is home to the highest number of active volcanoes in the world, around 130.
The main concern for airlines regarding volcanic ash is not that it can affect visibility but rather that it could damage jet engines, according to experts.
Ash turns into molten glass when it is sucked into aircraft engines and in extreme cases can cause them to shut down.
Yesterday flights to and from Bali were canceled on Tuesday as well, following the eruption of Mount Rinjani on the nearby island of Lombok, East Nusa Tenggara. Ngurah Rai International Airport was temporarily closed from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., affecting 11 international and 14 domestic flights. Today authorities extend the closure of an international airport.