Bali airport is remaining closed for a further 24 hours because of volcanic ash from nearby Mount Agung. With around 450 more flights cancelled, it adds tens of thousands more travellers to the list of passengers stranded on the Indonesian island.
Forecasts from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin, northern Australia show that the ash cloud is now spreading south-west from the volcano. This should allow the airport on the neighbouring island of Lombok, to the east, to operate normally.
The authorities are said to be laying on buses to take travellers from Denpasar airport in Bali to the port at Padang Bai on the east of the island, from where they can take the four-hour ferry ride to Lombok.
The prospects for Bali’s airport re-opening on Wednesday look bleak, and the Australian airline, Jetstar, has already cancelled some flights. It is offering Australian passengers booked to travel to the island the option to switch to much further-flung destinations, including Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.
Frustration is growing among travellers who are either trying to leave the island or booked to go there, with the leading Indonesian airline, Garuda, facing criticism. Dagmar Zwebe tweeted: “I have been trying to call your lines but it is impossible to get somebody on the line. I also tried the life chat but nobody is answering.
“Would it be possible to change our flight to a different destination? Is there any other way to contact you?”
The Australian foreign ministry is warning: “Depending on the weather conditions at the time of an eruption, an ash cloud could affect flights and ash fall may impact Denpasar and neighbouring airports in East Java and Lombok.”
Among the passengers stranded on Bali are thousands of teenage Australians who had flown to the island for the traditional “Schoolies” — a week’s holiday after completing secondary school.
Many British travellers have plans to visit Bali over Christmas and New Year. But holiday firms and airlines are unwilling to make alternative arrangements until the situation becomes clearer.
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