Aussies grounded after Bali volcano erupts

Flights in and out of Bali have been affected by water vapour and volcanic ash cloud.
Flights in and out of Bali have been affected by water vapour and volcanic ash cloud.

THOUSANDS of Australians have put their dreams of a Bali holiday on hold with flights from capital cities cancelled after Indonesia’s Mount Agung began spewing water vapour and ash into the atmosphere.

Jetstar scrapped its flights from Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane on Friday morning to the tourist hotspot due to renewed activity at the volcano.

Qantas released a statement on Friday 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,” it reads.

“While these disruptions are frustrating, we always put safety first.”

Australians flying to and from Bali are urged to check their airlines’ website on Friday for updates with flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and Bali delayed, cancelled and turned back.

The airlines are awaiting an update from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre due at 9am AEST on Friday.

More than 20 flights across Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin and Air Asia were disrupted between Thursday night and Friday morning due to the ash cloud moving toward Denpasar airport.

The only three flights on Friday 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.

Mount 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.