Bali Airport Open as Wind Takes Volcano Ash Away From Island

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Bali’s airport was open Monday after being closed for much of the past three days, with authorities monitoring ash from a nearby volcano that continues to erupt about every two hours.

The wind is now blowing ash from Mount Raung to the south, away from Bali, Syamsul Huda, a spokesman at Indonesia’s meteorological agency, said Monday. The wind direction looks reasonably stable and conducive to the airport staying open, he said.

Thousands of holiday makers were stranded as the eruption in eastern Java forced authorities to close Bali’s airport from late Thursday through Saturday morning. It was closed again for part of Sunday before reopening late in the afternoon.

Coming at the peak tourist season, prolonged closures could pose a significant threat to Bali’s economy. The island’s beaches, surfing, culture and nightlife make it among Asia’s most popular travel destinations.

Most airlines had resumed flights Monday. PT Garuda Indonesia Ltd. spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said the Indonesian national carrier had cleared its backlog of passengers, while Jetstar Airways Pty. said in a statement it would add extra flights on Tuesday and Wednesday. Virgin Australia Holding Ltd., which canceled most of its Bali flights Monday, said it would send an observation flight before deciding whether to operate two Monday evening flights from Bali.

Chance of Closing

“Passengers are getting back to normal,” Ida Bagus Ketut Juliadnyana, a spokesman for state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura I, said Monday. “The possibility of closure still exists” but depends on the wind direction, he said.

The Indonesian archipelago is lined with volcanoes, and eruptions have often disrupted flights. In 1982, all four engines on a Boeing Co. 747 plane operated by British Airways Plc stalled when the plane encountered ash spewed from a volcano. The plane fell for almost four miles before the pilot was able to restart three engines and make an emergency landing in Jakarta.