Bali airport reopens after two-day closure

PHOTO: Reuters

Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport reopened on Thursday afternoon after ash cleared from the sky following recent eruptions of Mount Barujari in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

Trikora Harjo, general manager of Ngurah Rai airport's operator PT Angkasa Pura I, said airport re-opened at 2:30 p.m. local time and the decision was based on information from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) and from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Darwin, Australia.

"They informed us that the wind was now taking volcanic ash […] to the south, away from Bali," he said as reported by state news agency Antara.

Trikora said the authorities also took into consideration the first-hand visual evidence of less volcanic ash being visable near the airport.

Flight operations cannot proceed immediately, however, because it will take the airport at least two hours to get ready.

"We have to clean the apron and the runways. Airlines also need to clean their aircrafts," he said.

Angkasa Pura also needed to prepare general airport systems including goods check-ins and immigration checks.

No information has been given yet about which flights and airlines would depart and arrive first in Bali as airport authorities still need to coordinate with air navigation authorities and airlines.

The airport was closed on Tuesday leaving more than 6,000 domestic and international passengers stranded. Authorities initially decided to close the airport until Friday due to intensified volcanic activity at Mt. Barujari, located inside the caldera of Mount Rinjani.

Thousands of passengers welcomed the announcement of the opening of the airport on Thursday.

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

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