Most flights to and from Bali still on as volcanic activity dips

Flights in and out of Bali's airport continued yesterday amid lower volcanic activity at Mount Agung.

Carriers such as Singapore Airlines and SilkAir have been operating as scheduled since the airport was reopened last Wednesday.

It was closed last Monday due to the risks posed by ash clouds from the volcano, which has been erupting intermittently since Nov 21.

Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia said it would operate limited flights to and from Bali, while KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has suspended all night flights for "as long as the volcano is active".

Jetstar cancelled seven flights out of Bali yesterday, including one that usually departs for Singapore at 5.30pm local time. The Australian budget carrier and Qantas said that while conditions were expected to be clear throughout the day, "the forecast for tonight has deteriorated and several flights have been cancelled".

Only one flight - an AirAsia service to Kuala Lumpur -was delayed out of 49 flights between 3pm and 6pm local time yesterday. Among the 50 scheduled arrivals over the same period, five - mainly from Perth and Sydney - were cancelled or re-directed.

1,500

Number of people who died during Mount Agung's last recorded major blowouts in 1963.

The decision by some airlines to cancel flights from Bali has frustrated passengers.

Australian couple Justine and Greg Hill and their two teenage children were due to fly out yesterday but their flight was cancelled, reported Reuters. "I don't understand why if other airlines are flying, some others aren't. Obviously, there must be safety protocols, but there's no detailed explanation," said Mr Hill, 46.

Meanwhile, Bali remains in a state of emergency, with Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) yet to lift its highest volcano alert level.

No major tremors were detected at the volcano yesterday, but the BNPB is maintaining the 10km radius exclusion zone because of lava flows and plumes of ash clouds. Officials have advised people to stay out of the exclusion zone as conditions could change at any time.

Bali is bracing itself for a big eruption of Mount Agung, which last recorded major blowouts in 1963, when around 1,500 people died.

Experts have said it is difficult to predict when the next large eruption will occur, pointing to Mount Sinabung on Sumatra, which is still at the highest alert level after roaring back to life four years ago.

The volcano erupted yesterday at 8.45am local time, said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Nugroho. "There were no casualties and no additional evacuees. The communities were already aware of the (ongoing) eruptions," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 03, 2017, with the headline 'Most flights to and from Bali still on as volcanic activity dips'. Print Edition | Subscribe