Mt. Sinabung eruption affects flights

Mt. Sinabung eruption affects flights
Villagers sit on a truck as they evacuate to a safe spot, as Mount Sinabung spews ash into air at Aman Teran village in Karo district, Indonesia's North Sumatra province.

Mount Sinabung's volcanic ash has reached Medan, North Sumatra, affecting aviation operations at Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang regency, on Sunday.

Susi Air, one of the airline companies operating in Kuala Namu, decided to temporarily halt its operations due to the enormous extent of ash clouds in the airport's surrounding areas. Malaysian airline AirAsia delayed departures due to the same reason.

Susi Air operational manager Hadi Zulfadli said the company had to cancel five flights scheduled due to disruptions caused by volcanic ash from the Sinabung eruption. The five flights comprised four flights from Kuala Namu to Simeule, Singkil in Aceh and Aek Godang in Padang Sidempuan regency, North Sumatra, and one flight from Banda Aceh to Kutacane.

Hadi said all of those flight routes were prone to accidents as they were blanketed by volcanic ash.

"It's quite thick. All of our planes in Kuala Namu were covered in ash this morning. This could be very dangerous if we insist on travel. Thus, we decided to temporarily halt operations," Hadi told The Jakarta Post.

When Susi Air management would resume operations remained unknown as it depended on the Sinabung situation, according to Hadi. "Once the situation is safe, we're ready to resume operations," he said.

Kuala Namu operational manager Ali Sofyan said while the ash cloud caused disruptions to AirAsia and Susi Air travel operations, several other airline companies were operating normally.

"In general, air travel operations in Kuala Namu are running normally. We found volcanic ash in several parts of the airport, such as on runways, but we have cleaned it up," said Ali.

Mt. Sinabung erupted again at around 9:45 p.m. local time on Saturday, spewing 10-kilometer-high volcanic ash into the sky. For the first time since its initial eruption in 2010, Mt. Sinabung's volcanic ash spread to Medan, around 80 kilometers from the volcano.

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