Thousands of holidaymakers are stranded in Bali as a volcanic ash cloud shuts down flights to and from the Indonesian island.
The Indonesian authorites have closed Denpasar, Lombok, Jember and Banyuwangi airports, as a cloud of ash billows from Mount Raung, which is about 150 kilometres from Denpasar Airport. It is possible that the eruption could last for several weeks – Steph Bond from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, said : “Volcanoes are very hard to predict but the indication at the moment is this activity could continue into the future.”
In a statement this morning, Virgin Australia said customers whose flights had been cancelled as a result of the volcanic activity would be able to change their booking to another flight within 14 days.
“We’re not satisfied it is safe to operate services in these conditions,” the airline said. “We regret the disruption these cancellations have caused travellers during the past week, but the safety of our customers and crew is our first priority. Our operations team is looking to put on additional services in and out of Bali over the coming days, subject to flying conditions improving.”
The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre’s Emile Jansons explained the risk for flights near Denpasar, due to the height of the ash cloud – six kilometres. “Raung is a very high volcano, just over 3,000 metres above sea level. So even a relatively not very strong eruption from the volcano will reach aircraft levels,”
The Bali Hotels Association, have issued this statement :
“[The association] stands together with the travelers affected by the disruption caused by the Mt. Raung Volcano ashes and, unlike other some destinations, does not wish to take advantage of the unfortunate situation. It suggests great empathy towards all travelers and provides the following guidelines:
For passengers that need to extend their stay, the Best Available Rate (also known as BAR) should be proposed when requests are made directly to the hotel. For bookings that are made through a third party, contracted rates apply.
For passengers that cannot come to Bali or will arrive later than original dates booked, BHA members are recommended to accept, at no charge, to re-book their stay (based on availability and rates during new requested period) until end of 2015.
Bali Hotels Association looks forward to a better situation that will allow all travelers to enjoy their trip to and from the island in a non-disruptive environment.
The following contact numbers are available for anyone whose travel plans have been effected :
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Within Australia: 1300 555 135
- Outside Australia: +61 2 6261 3305
- Inside Australia: 131 538
- Outside Australia: +61 3 9645 5999
- Indonesia: 001 803 852 9779
- Singapore: (65) 6499 9702
- Inside Australia: 136 789
- Outside Australia: +61 7 3295 2296
- Indonesia: 001 803 061 2002