A number of international flights have been cancelled after the Mount Agung volcano began spewing water vapour and ash two kilometres into the air.
The Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, also known as Denpasar airport, was shut down at 3.00 on June 29 local time (8.00pm June 28 GMT) due to the lack of visibility provoked by the ash cloud.
A statement released by the airport reads: “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.
“While these disruptions are frustrating, we always put safety first.”
According to Angkasa Pura, the airport operator, and the country’s disaster agency, Indonesia’s airport on Bali will be shut on Friday until 7pm local time.
Budget carrier AirAsia said in a statement: “The eruption of Mount Agung today has impacted several of our flights to and from Bali.”
Ngurah Rai’s online flight information board showed Australian airlines Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas had cancelled flights to and from the island.
Korean Air, AirAsia, China Eastern Airlines, Garuda, Malindo Air and Citilink had also cancelled some flights.
Ngurah Rai’s public relations department said 26 international inbound and outbound flights had been cancelled, affecting nearly 5000 travellers.
10 domestic flights were also cancelled, affecting more than 1700 passengers.
However, if the airport re-opens on Friday night, Melbourne Airport spokesman Grant Smith said later flights may be able to go ahead.
He said: “Based on the flight time out of Melbourne, it’s possible some flights may still depart today, but we’ll have to take our guidance from the airlines once they’re notified what’s happening on the ground there.”
Airlines avoid flying through volcanic ash as it can damage the plane’s engines, clog fuel and cooling systems and hamper visibility.
The regional volcanic ash advisory centre in Darwin, Australia, claimed winds could carry the ash southwest towards Bali’s international airport and Java which is Indonesia’s most densely populated island.
Volcano trackers reported two eruptions from Mount Agung, an active volcano in northeastern Bali, between June 10 and June 12.
Mount Agung has been puffing since November last year.
The first minor explosive eruptions had already caused the closure of the airport in December 2017.
Mount Agung is one of the 147 volcanoes spread over Indonesia.
Some 120 of these are deemed active, with three of them currently in a state of eruption.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE SCARSI