Mount Agung eruption: Singapore-Bali flights cancelled due to airport closure

Travellers, whose flight to Bali was cancelled as a result of the Mount Agung eruption, lining up at a Scoot counter at Changi Airport Terminal 2.
Travellers, whose flight to Bali was cancelled as a result of the Mount Agung eruption, lining up at a Scoot counter at Changi Airport Terminal 2. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
About 50 people affected by the cancellation of their flight to Bali wait in line at a Scoot counter in Changi Airport Terminal 2, to try to get on flights to other South-east Asian countries. ST PHOTO: LESTER HIO
About 50 people affected by the cancellation of their flight to Bali wait in line at a Scoot counter in Changi Airport Terminal 2, to try to get on flights to other South-east Asian countries. ST PHOTO: LESTER HIO
Travellers queueing to rebook flights at Row 12 of Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Monday morning. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Travellers queueing to rebook flights at Row 12 of Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Monday morning. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - At least 14 flights from Singapore to Bali were cancelled on Monday (Nov 27) due to the eruption of Mount Agung,  although volcanic ash – which can affect air quality – is unlikely to affect Singapore for now.

However, the Meteorological Service Singapore said that “a significant increase in volcanic activity and a change in the direction of upper-level winds could blow ash from Mount Agung to Singapore.” 

It will continue to monitor the situation.

Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport said in a statement that it will be closed for the whole of Monday and reopen on Tuesday morning. 

The airport said in a statement that 445 flights - 196 international and 249 domestic - and 59,000 passengers had been affected.

At Changi Airport's Terminal 2 on Monday morning, travellers from a cancelled Scoot flight to Bali tried to get on flights to other parts of South-east Asia to have their holidays elsewhere instead.

About 50 passengers were seen queueing at a Scoot airline counter at 10am - half an hour before their original flight was scheduled to take off.

Scoot said on Facebook on Monday morning that its three flights today to and from Bali – TR280/281, TR285/285 and TR 288/289 – are cancelled due to the airport’s closure arising from the eruption of Mt Agung.

Housewife Alayspari Suppramayan, 55, who had planned to visit Bali for three days with her daughter and sister, said there was a lot of confusion at Changi Airport. 

"We were checking for updates over the weekend and came fully prepared for things to be cancelled. But the Scoot staff didn't seem to know anything and kept re-directing us to different queues. We've been in four different queues in two hours," she said.

"I know it's a natural disaster and things are unexpected. But what irks me is that the staff didn't seem to know the situation in Bali might escalate and when it did, they didn't know how to handle the situation," she added. She and her companions were later put on a noon flight to Bangkok. 


Most of the affected travellers have decided to travel to alternative destinations in the region such as Malaysia, Thailand, and elsewhere in Indonesia. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Other travellers told The Straits Times that they were still going ahead with plans to visit Bali by heading to areas on the island unaffected by the volcano eruption.

Croatian Boris Mihaljevic, 35, said he is aiming to reschedule his Scoot flight to Surabaya on Tuesday and then to hop on a boat to Bali.

"It's a bit of a hassle but that's the plan so far," said Mr Mihaljevic, a biologist, who is travelling with his wife Diana, 32. 

"It's not so bad, we only lose a day if we get there tomorrow afternoon," he added.

It was a different scene at Changi Airport's Terminal 3, where a 11.50am Garuda Indonesia flight to Bali was cancelled. 

Check-in counters were empty. A counter staff said a notice was sent out at 7am on Monday to inform passengers of the cancellation. Passengers were rebooked on the next available flight, or allowed to request a full refund from Garuda. 

At the airport's Terminal 4, Ms Yenny Chung, 30, was trying to rebook a flight to Indonesia after she received word  the night before that her AirAsia flight was cancelled.  At least four AirAsia flights to Bali on Monday have been cancelled.

"It's a hassle because all of our accomodations have been booked, and we were due to fly out to East Timor from Bali on Thursday," said the nurse. She and her parents, who are based in Australia, are going to Timor to visit relatives.
 
She added: "I just hope the airline or insurance covers a direct flight to Timor from here, in case the situation in Bali continues and flights still can't fly in."
 

Earlier at 8am on Monday, Changi Airport Group put up a post on Facebook to advise passengers to check its website - changiairport.com - or its app, iChangi, for flight updates.

Passengers may also go to their respective airlines for updates, it added.


Travellers affected by the cancellation of their Scoot flight to Bali due to the Mount Agung eruption checking for updates as they queued at a Scoot counter in Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Monday morning. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Singapore Airlines said on its website at 8.45am that the following flights on Monday have been cancelled: SQ938/SQ939, SQ942/SQ943, SQ946/SQ947, SQ948/SQ949, MI176/MI175.

It added that customers travelling to Denpasar, Bali, between Nov 27 and Dec 4 this year with tickets issued on or before Nov 27, may contact their nearest SIA ticket office if they would like to rebook or request a refund of their tickets.

The new travel date must commence on or before Jan 31 next year.

SIA also advised customers to update their contact details to receive updates on their flights and check the SIA website regularly for updates.

Mr Daniel Kent, 23, an admissions officer at Yale-NUS College, was supposed to return to Singapore on Monday when he received word that the airport in Bali had shut down all flights. 

“The whole airport was shut down and the airline I’m on – Scoot – said they’ll reassess the situation tomorrow,” he said. “They said they’ll work with us to rebook flights but I haven’t heard anything else so far and the phone lines are all jammed up.”

Another traveller in Bali, Miss Olha Romaniuk, 33, who works as a project manager at a design firm in Singapore, said she was “very bothered” with the delays as it means she will miss a few days of work.

"There were no signs or warnings about the cancellation,” she said. “My flight got rescheduled to Wednesday as most flights tomorrow are either cancelled or fully booked.” 

She is currently in Seminyak, in the south of Bali, which is outside the boundary of the volcanic eruption zone. “I’m trying to make the most of the situation and just relax at another hotel until it’s time to go to the airport on Wednesday,” she added.

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had advised Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel to affected areas of Bali. Mount Agung has been rumbling since September, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee to shelters.
 

On Monday, the Indonesian authorities raised the threat warning from the volcano to its highest level, amid fears that potentially greater eruptions could be imminent.