Ash cloud over Bali scuppers travel plans

A traveller catching some shut-eye yesterday at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport in this picture from Antara Foto. Nearly 700 flights have been cancelled, said the Bali airport authorities, because of a large ash cloud from Mount Rinjani on nearby Lombok is
A traveller catching some shut-eye yesterday at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport in this picture from Antara Foto. Nearly 700 flights have been cancelled, said the Bali airport authorities, because of a large ash cloud from Mount Rinjani on nearby Lombok island.PHOTO: REUTERS

Flights to and from island affected as airports in Denpasar and Lombok remain shut

More Singaporeans travelling to and from Bali had to shuffle their plans as the Indonesian authorities extended the closure of the island's Ngurah Rai International Airport to today.

As of 10pm yesterday, at least 57 flights from Denpasar, Bali, to Singapore originally scheduled for between Tuesday and today had been cancelled, according to the Changi Airport website. At least 48 flights from Singapore to the popular resort island have also been called off.

The authorities shut the Indonesian island's airport on Tuesday because of a large ash cloud from Mount Rinjani - an erupting volcano on the nearby Lombok island.

Two smaller airports on Lombok and East Java were also shut, according to Agence France-Presse.

Nearly 700 flights have since been cancelled, Bali airport authorities told Reuters yesterday.

Many passengers, including India's vice-president, are stuck on the island, Bloomberg reported.

Yoga Movement owner and singer-songwriter Alicia Pan, 30, is among the Singaporeans stranded in Bali. She and her husband were meant to return home on Tuesday after a five-day work and leisure trip. But their 9.30pm KLM flight was cancelled. "I spent all day working remotely in a hotel. KLM did a really good job at sorting out free accommodation for its passengers," Ms Pan told The Straits Times.

Many people here had to shelve their vacation plans and work trips.

Market researcher Audrey Tsen, 26, had her morning Jetstar flight to Bali today cancelled. "My friends and I were really looking forward to this holiday. Luckily we bought travel insurance," said Ms Tsen.

Public relations consultant Rasyida Paddy, 27, was due to be in Bali for a conference yesterday but showed up at Changi Airport only to find that her 6.50am Singapore Airlines flight was first delayed and then rescheduled to the next day.

"I decided to cancel the trip altogether in case of further delays," said Mrs Paddy. "But I'm glad that I didn't board the plane. It would've been a major headache to be stuck in Bali instead."

Some like Ms Pan, however, are not complaining about their forced extension in paradise.

"I love Bali," she said. "If it were anywhere else I'd probably have felt a little more inconvenienced."

The Singapore Embassy in Jakarta yesterday said the Ngurah Rai International Airport and Lombok's Selaparang Airport will remain closed until today.

Bali airport official Yulfiadi told Agence France-Presse: "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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2015, with the headline 'Ash cloud over Bali scuppers travel plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe