Thousands of Australians heading to Bali have had to put their holidays on hold with flights from capital cities cancelled due to Indonesia’s Mount Agung volcano spewing water vapour and ash into the atmosphere.
Jetstar scrapped its flights from Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane this morning to the tourist hotspot due to renewed activity at the volcano.
Qantas released a statement today saying it was not “currently safe to operate flights to and from Denpasar Airport” after Mt Agung began shooting ash 2000 metres into the air on Thursday.
“Denpasar Airport is currently closed and we are monitoring the advice from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre and our team of senior pilots and meteorologists will make an assessment when flights can be resumed,” the statement said.
“While these disruptions are frustrating, we always put safety first.”
The disruptions come at a busy time for the popular holiday spot with families chasing some winter warmth during the school holidays. Today is the last day of the school term for students in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
School breaks up in NSW, South Australia and the ACT a week later.
Australians flying to and from Bali are urged to check their airlines’ website for updates with flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and Bali delayed, cancelled and turned back.
More than 20 flights across Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin and Air Asia were disrupted between Thursday night and this morning due to the ash cloud moving toward Denpasar airport.
The only three flights this morning to Bali from Melbourne were cancelled with passengers with tickets to fly in the afternoon to the tourist island still holding their breath.
Melbourne Airport spokesman Grant Smith said Malindo Air, Garuda Indonesia and Jetstar had scrapped their flight plans with up to 1000 passengers impacted.
The regional volcanic ash advisory centre in Darwin said winds could carry the ash southwest toward Bali’s international airport and Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island.
Mt Agung is about 70km northeast of Bali’s tourist hotspot of Kuta.
Its last major eruption was in 1963 and killed about 1200 people.
Activity at the volcano was high last year and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, but it had been quieter this year.
Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Local government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.