More than 50,000 passengers have faced disruption due to cancelled flights as volcanic ash closes airport
Bali travellers in limbo as ash cloud from volcano disrupts flights
Tens of thousands of tourists face uncertainty in the coming days after flights to and from Bali were cancelled amid a feared major volcanic eruption.
Most tourists are out of immediate danger, as the volcano site in Karangasem is some 75km from the hotspot of Kuta.
Locals too face an anxious wait to discover the fate of their homes and livelihoods after evacuating a 12km exclusion zone around Mount Agung.
Holidaymaker Sama Al Wasmi, a fashion designer from Kuwait was due to fly back via Hong Kong on Friday, but those plans were shelved a day after she arrived in Bali and the volcano erupted ash.
“It’s surreal as everyone is carrying on as normal, but everyone is on edge” she said, speaking to The National.
“Either people’s flights have been cancelled or people are worried about what could happen next.
“There is a lot of concern about how serious it could get, particularly for those who are living here and have homes near to the volcano.
“A lot of people have been freaking out about the possibility of an earthquake or a tsunami, no one knows what will happen next.”
Airline passengers took to social media to show their concerns about how long delays and cancellations may last.
Tourists scattered across the tiny island of just 5,700 square kilometres have been offered discounted hotel rooms as they contend with an unexpected extension to their stay.
Visas are also being extended, but some who had already left Bali with the hope of returning to renew their visa, are now stranded in nearby Singapore.
Jonathan Branford, from England, has been in Bali for a month and was due to fly home via Dubai before his flights were disrupted due to the volcanic eruption.
“My scheduled flight was arranged for 12:05am but has been rescheduled for Tuesday at 8:40. “Emirates have been very helpful with everything, I even received a call letting me know.
“The only thing is that the airport is due to open at 7pm local time and my flight is due at 8.40pm.
“There’s a chance that the airport will remain closed which could create a problem.
“I run my own business as a sports advisor and work remotely so the situation doesn’t affect me too much.
“We’ve just had the longest thunder and rain storm since being here and it’s been going on now for three hours.”
Others said they tried to leave the island for Thailand, but to no avail.
“We are safe and not terribly close to the volcano,” said Stevie Paulson who used social media to tell friends and family he was safe.
“We tried to fly to Thailand the first night of erupting and all flights have been cancelled. So stranded in Bali for the time being.”
Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport has been closed since 7am on Monday as Mount Agung spewed volcanic ash 3km skywards.
An exclusion zone to protect those most at risk is being gradually extended, last recorded to be 12km from the volcano itself forcing more than 100,000 people to evacuate homes and businesses.
Head of the tourism office in Bali has urged low cost carriers to remove cancellation fees and rescheduling charges from those grounded, whilst those whose visa are due to expire are being offered a one-month extension.
Emirates flights in and out of Bali have been cancelled until further notice.
Three Emirates services on Monday were cancelled.
Other international airlines that have cancelled flights include Singapore Airlines, Tiger Air, Malaysian Airlines and Jetstar with more than 50,000 passengers affected.
Abu Dhabi’s state-owned carrier Etihad Airways does not fly direct to Bali but is understood to be diverting a small number of passengers with connections to Bali.