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Bali airport closes; tens of thousands stranded

Mt Agung spits ash six kilometres into the sky

Denpasar Airport, Bali’s main hub, has been closed after Indonesian authorities raised the alert for rumbling Mount Agung volcano to the highest level early this morning.


More than 400 flights through the hub have now been cancelled, with nearly 60,000 people affected by the airport’s closure, the ABC reported.


Moreover, with authorities warning of an imminent eruption, people within 10 kilometres of the volcano have been told to evacuate.



The closure of Denpasar follows the shutdown of the airport on the nearby tourist island of Lombok due to shifting clouds of volcanic ash.


Bali, officially called Ngurah Rai Airport, will close for at least 18 hours when conditions will be reassessed.


Prior to the closure, Bali airport chief Herson said the six airports closest to Denpasar, including Surabaya and Makassar, would “be ready to back up Ngurah Rai, in case an immediate closing occurs”.


In a Facebook statement released this morning, Jetstar called for patience from its customers.


“While these disruptions are frustrating, we will always put safety before schedule,” it read.


“We are doing everything we can to get customers moving as quickly as possible.


“Our senior pilots will make further assessments with the latest information and forecasts from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre and we will provide another update by 7pm today.”


Virgin Australia also emphasized its priority for the safety of guests and crew.


Image SBS


Predictably, JQ and VA’s social media pages have been inundated with requests, comments and criticism. 


Virgin passenger Steven Sankey wrote on Facebook, “Virgin - we were meant to fly out last night of VA43, the one you cancelled as we were about to board”.


“What happened to our sms or email updates? You took everyone’s down at the airport then sent us all away, telling us you’d keep us up to date, in the end it was only after talking to your call centre at 5am did we learn we were on a 9:30am flight,” he said.


“Everyone on the flight mentioned you never messaged them either, they found out the same way we did.


“No wonder the flight was half empty with communication like that.”


Jetstar flyer Bethanie May Gerrie was also unimpressed by her airline.


“We weren't contacted by you as promised and when we did get in contact the best you could do is put us on a flight three days later,” she wrote on Facebook.


“The volcano is likely to erupt again and we really do not want a repeat of our experience with you on Saturday and don't want to be pushed back another three days.


“I was supposed to start a new job today but instead I am here in Bali wondering when I will be able to get home.”


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 27 November 2017

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