A volcano on the island of Java has closed multiple airports across the country and caused many flights to be canceled including those to the popular tourist destination of Bali.
Mt. Raung, a 10,930 foot volcano located about 100 miles from Denpasar, has been rumbling for weeks but the activity increased sending large amounts of ash and gases into the air. The eruption isn’t explosive, per se, but rather a continued venting, which due to its height, can easily disrupt air traffic.
The Denpasar Airport on Bali will be closed until at least 21:30 local time at which point its status would be updated depending on conditions. Other airports in nearby Lombok and Java are also affected.
The BBC’s Alice Budisatrijo in Jakarta says the airport closures could not have come at a worse time, as the islands are popular with foreign and domestic tourists in the middle of the school holiday season.
Indonesians are also starting to travel home for the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, so the disruption of flights to the smaller airports are being felt by many families, says our correspondent.
Victoria Welsby, from the UK, has been stranded at Denpasar airport since Thursday when her flight to Cairns was cancelled.
She told the BBC that she was “completely in limbo” and “cannot do anything more” after Jetstar put her on an outbound flight that is only leaving in 10 days.
Fortunately this eruption seems to be only affecting air travel, as authorities are not evacuating residents at this time. They are, however, advising the use of a face mask, especially for those who already suffer from breathing issues.
— Leopold Kennedy Adam (@LeopoldAdam) July 10, 2015
Some will also remember the headache that the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano in Iceland that I will never try to pronounce, had on the airline industry. That one continued for months, causing sporadic diversions that are costly both in terms of time and fuel.
My wife often says that Bali is “her favorite place on Earth.” That said, the Denpasar Airport is not exactly the most orderly airport in the world to begin with, so I’m sure it is quite chaotic at the moment with thousands of tourists needing to be accommodated by their airline.
I certainly hope that everyone stays safe and eventually gets where they’re going.
For those already in Bali, well, there are worse places in the world to be stranded.
Is anyone currently in Bali, or planning travel in the region this week?