Airports reopen after winds change

Airports reopen after winds change
As the winds blew volcanic ash away from the airports, operations have resumed, with some airlines receiving permission to use larger aircraft to fly passengers out.
PHOTO: Reuters

Airports that had been forced to close as a result of clouds of volcanic ash from the eruptions of Mount Raung in Banyuwangi, East Java, have resumed operation after the ash clouds subsided.

In Bali, Ngurah Rai International Airport was reopened on Saturday at noon following a notice of airmen (Notam) issued at 10 a.m., declaring the weather safe for flights.

"We received encouraging information from the BMKG [Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency], saying that the wind had changed the direction of the volcanic ash," Ngurah Rai airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I's general manager Trikora Harjo said.

Quoting the report, Trikora said that the ash that had previously covered the skies over the airport had subsided and drifted southwest. The Notam was promptly forwarded to Jakarta. "Ngurah Rai Airport has been reopened," Trikora said.

The check-in counters were then opened, both for passengers scheduled to fly that day and those who had rescheduled earlier flights.

Airport authority chief Yusfandri Gona said many airlines, including Australian Jetstar, had proposed extra flights to accommodate passengers whose flights had been cancelled.

"Many airlines have also requested permits to use larger aircraft. Virgin Airlines has proposed to use an Airbus 330, replacing the Boeing 737 800 originally planned," Yusfrandri said.

Meanwhile, one foreign tourist, Franz-Toni Schallberger, expressed relief at being able to fly on Saturday as scheduled.

"They have announced that the flight will take off tomorrow [Sunday]. But I said I want to take off today. I'm lucky that the ash has gone. Very good," remarked the Swiss national, who was on holiday in Bali with his wife.

Meawhile, in Jember, East Java, Notohadinegoro Airport was reopened on Friday after being closed for just three hours, after the revocation of a Notam ordering the airport's closure.

"Activities have returned to normal again. Flights will go ahead as scheduled," Notohadinegoro airport's technical managing unit (UPT) head Edy Purnomo said as quoted by on Saturday.

As previously reported, the Transportation Ministry issued Notams for the closure of five airports after Mt. Raung spewed volcanic ash into the sky.

The five airports were Ngurah Rai International Airport, Lombok International Airport, Lombok Selaparang Airport, Banyuwangi Blimbingsari Airport and Jember Notohadinegoro Airport.

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