Stranded travellers rejoice as Bali airport reopens

Stranded travellers rejoice as Bali airport reopens
PHOTO: AFP

After days of uncertainty, passengers stranded at Bali's international airport could finally heave a sigh of relief - and board a plane.

The Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar reopened to flights yesterday afternoon. It had shut down on Tuesday because of the threat of volcanic ash from a volcano on neighbouring Lombok Island, Jakarta Globe reported.

A transportation ministry official in Jakarta confirmed that the airport had resumed operations.

Mr Trikora Harjo, Bali airport's general manager, said the latest monitoring by the Indonesian meteorological agency and Australia's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre indicated that winds were carrying the ash cloud from the erupting Mount Rinjani, which lies east of Bali, to the south and away from flight paths.

He was quoted as saying: "We're still preparing, in particular, cleaning the runway of ash. The planes are also being cleaned now."

Thousands of passengers welcomed the announcement of the aiairport's re-opening, Jakarta Post reported.

Mr Hugh Millard, a Malaysia Airlines passenger flying home to London, said: "Finally, after waiting all day, we can go home."

S'POREANS AFFECTED

Big airlines were losing millions of dollars a day as flights were grounded, 9news.com.au reported.

Nearly 700 flights, including 320 international ones, were cancelled between Tuesday and yesterday.

The cancellations led to travel chaos for thousands of passengers stranded in Bali, AFP reported.

Singaporeans who had planned to travel to and from Bali had to re-arrange their plans.

India's Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who wrapped up a state visit on Wednesday, was due to depart the holiday island until his flight was grounded.

The deportation of an Indian fugitive wanted in his home country for up to 20 murders was also delayed. The crime boss had been arrested in Bali more than a week ago.

Air traffic is regularly disrupted by volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, which sits on a belt of seismic activity running around the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

The country has the highest number of active volcanoes in the world - around 130.

Bali's international airport is one of the busiest airports in Indonesia, handling 15 million to 20 million passengers a year.


This article was first published on November 6, 2015.
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