AirAsia, Garuda cancel flights to and from Yogyakarta due to Merapi eruption

AirAsia said it would inform passengers of affected flights through e-mail and text message.
AirAsia said it would inform passengers of affected flights through e-mail and text message.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE/PETALING JAYA (BLOOMBERG, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - AirAsia and Garuda Indonesia have cancelled a total of at least 26  flights to and from Yogyakarta after the eruption of Mount Merapi forced the ancient Javanese city's airport to close.

The cancelled AirAsia flights are AK 346, AK 347, AK 348 and AK 349 (Yogyakarta - Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur - Yogyakarta), QZ 659 (Singapore - Yogyakarta), QZ 7557, QZ 7550, QZ 7551, QZ 7552 and QZ 7553 (Yogyakarta - Jakarta, Jakarta - Yogyakarta), XT 8448 and XT 8449 (Bali - Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta - Bali).

Passengers of cancelled flights will be given the option of rescheduling, rerouting their journey or a refund or credit. AirAsia also advised passengers to check AirAsia's website and social media accounts for further updates.

Meanwhile Garuda, Indonesia's national carrier, cancelled 14 flights.

Yogyakarta’s Adisutjipto International Airport, 520km south-east of Jakarta, was closed at about 10:42am on Friday local time, and reopened at 2:17pm, state air-navigation operator AirNav Indonesia said in a statement Friday. 

Mount Merapi’s eruptions are minor, caused by accumulation of volcanic gases, and shouldn’t lead to further outbursts, the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation at the nation’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said in a statement, adding its status is “normal.”

Other airlines that canceled flights include those operated by the Lion Group.  

It said it would inform passengers of affected flights through email and text message.

"AirAsia strongly encourages all guests to update their contact details at airasia.com to ensure that they are notified of any updates to their flights," AirAsia said in a statement on Friday.

Indonesia is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and geological fault lines surrounding the Pacific Basin. According to the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, the archipelago has about 120 active volcanoes. It has had two of the world’s biggest volcanic eruptions in the past two centuries: Mount Tambora in 1815 and Krakatau in 1883. 

Last year, Mount Agung on the neighbouring island of Bali erupted and forced the airport at the popular holiday destination to close several times. Yogyakarta is also a prominent tourist spot for Buddhist pilgrims. 

The volcanic ash and gases spewed can be dangerous to planes passing through the plume. In 1982, all four engines on a British Airways Boeing Co. 747 stalled when the plane encountered the debris from Mount Galunggung in Indonesia.

The plane dropped for almost four miles before the pilot was able to restart three engines and make an emergency landing in Jakarta.