Australian airlines refuse to fly to reopened Bali airport due to ash

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Sydney (dpa) – Australian airlines said they were not resuming flights to Bali Friday as they considered the cloud of volcanic ash still too dangerous, despite Denpasar airport’s decision to reopen.

The decision will add to delays faced by the hundreds of passengers stranded at the airport since Tuesday when the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre warned the ash erupting from Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island was blowing towards Denpasar.

The cloud was still unacceptably close to Denpasar and flying conditions remain unsafe, Jetstar said on Facebook, so its flights between Australia and Bali remained cancelled until further notice.

Virgin Australia also cancelled all flights to Bali Friday and will decide on Saturday whether to resume flights.

“The safety of our guests and crew is our highest priority,” the airline said on its Facebook site.

Both airlines are offering those who have not yet travelled alternative destinations or to postpone their trip to Bali. The backup of travellers already in Bali is expected to take up to a week to clear.

Indonesia’s Transport Ministry said the closure of Lombok International Airport had been extended at least until Saturday.

The ministry said flight cancellations and airport closure had so far cost an estimated 3.1 million US dollars in lost revenue.

Mount Rinjani started erupting on 25 October and prevailing winds were taking the ash cloud east towards Denpasar. The volcano’s last eruption was in 2009 and lasted for 15 months.

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