By Christina Ng
PASSENGERS heaved a sigh of relief yesterday as most flights to and from Jakarta resumed yesterday after last Saturday's grounding of planes due to a volcanic ash cloud.
Only four flights to the Indonesian capital and five from the city were cancelled yesterday, said Mr Ivan Tan, director of corporate and marketing communications at Changi Airport Group.
That is an improvement from last Saturday, when 11 flights to Jakarta and eight flights from the city were cancelled.
The nine flights grounded yesterday were from Valuair, Philippine Airlines, Lufthansa and Jetstar.
The notoriously volatile Mount Merapi unleashed nearly 50 million cu m of gas, rocks and ash last Friday, its most powerful eruption in a century.
The volcano's eruptions in the past two weeks have already killed 138 people.
A change in wind direction diverted last Friday's ash cloud away from Jakarta yesterday, allowing most flights to proceed as planned.
Singapore Airlines cancelled four flights yesterday morning, but later reinstated them.
An SIA spokesman said that more than 1,000 of its passengers were affected by the cancellation of 12 flights last Saturday and those who needed accommodation were put up at hotels.
Most who were due to fly out of Singapore last Saturday were rebooked onto two flights yesterday.
"SIA's flights are back to normal yesterday. However we'll monitor the volcanic situation and make flight changes if necessary," said the spokesman.
Two AirAsia flights bound for Jakarta also took off yesterday, with five arriving from the city as of 10.30pm last night.
Indonesian real-estate agent Lukito Djitokoesoemo, 32, flew in from Jakarta at about 3pm yesterday.
He told my paper: "I was surprised that all AirAsia flights were cancelled last Saturday.
We couldn't even see the volcano smoke from Jakarta.
"Yogyakarta (where Merapi is located) is quite far away, so I don't know why the airlines were cancelling flights.
"My flight to Singapore was delayed for two hours but, otherwise, everything was fine at Jakarta and Changi Airports."
Mr Tan said passengers affected by cancellations have either been informed early and did not turn up at Changi Airport, or were taken care of by the respective airlines.
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