DENPASAR, Indonesia: Indonesian authorities at Bali’s international airport were fighting on Monday to clear a backlog after almost 900 flights were cancelled or delayed in recent days because of a volcanic eruption, causing travel chaos during the peak holiday season.
Mount Raung on Indonesia’s main island of Java, which has been rumbling for weeks, sent an ash cloud floating over Bali on Thursday, forcing the airport to close for two days.
Thousands of tourists who were visiting the resort island famed for its palm-fringed beaches found themselves stuck at Ngurah Rai airport, near Bali’s capital Denpasar, anxiously watching departure boards, sitting and sleeping on the floor.
The airport closed again on Sunday as the ash returned but reopened several hours later after authorities gave the all-clear.
Officials said the clouds of ash continued to drift away from Bali on Monday, giving airport authorities a chance to clear the backlog, which they said would take about three days.
“We are doing this as quickly as possible as the ash could come back any time,” airport official Yulfiadi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told Agence France-Presse.
Between Thursday and Sunday, a total of 873 flights were cancelled or delayed, Yulfiadi said.
Most airlines resumed flights on Sunday evening after the airport reopened, but Australian carriers Virgin Australia and Jetstar decided to keep services to and from Bali on hold. Many Australians are stuck in Bali after spending the school break on the island.