Authorities have suspended all flights in and out of Bali’s Denpasar International Airport until 7 am local time on Wednesday due to the eruption of the Mount Agung on the Indonesian holiday island.
The Geological Agency of the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has assigned the area a RED Aviation Color Code, the highest level possible, under the Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) system of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM).
The eruption has sent huge plumes of ash into airspace. A small amount has fallen on Denpasar Airport, leading to the suspension of flights on Monday and Tuesday.
“[The] best estimate of the ash-cloud top is around 22,854 feet above sea level, maybe higher than what can be observed clearly,” the VONA notice said, citing a ground observer as its source.
Airlines have canceled at least 445 flights, disrupting travel plans of some 90,000 passengers. Australia’s Jetstar warned of more disruptions later this week depending on weather conditions.
“The timing of the reopening of Denpasar airport will very much depend on changes to the prevailing weather, including the northeasterly winds,” said the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) noted in a November 28 statement. “In addition, the relevant air navigation service provider will need to be satisfied that the related air navigation corridors can be made available for use by airline operators.”
Measures undertaken to ease the problem include the use of other airports and the enlisting of 100 busses to move stranded passengers.
Indonesia’s airport operator will prepare Juanda Airport (Surabaya), Praya Airport (Lombok), Sultan Hassanudin Airport (Makassar), Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Sepinggan Airport (Balikpapan), Adi Soemarmo Airport (Solo), Ahmad Yani Airport (Semarang) and Adi Soetjipto Airport of Yogyakarta, to allow for redirection of flights, national news agency Antara reported.