Bali airport reopens after winds clear ash

This article is more than 12 months old

DENPASAR: The airport on the Indonesian island of Bali reopened yesterday as wind blew away ash and smoke spewed out by a volcano, giving airlines a window to get stranded tourists out and the authorities more time to urge villagers to move to safety.

Operations at the airport have been disrupted since the weekend when Mount Agung, in east Bali, began belching out huge clouds of smoke and ash, and the authorities warned of an "imminent threat" of a major eruption.

"Bali's international airport started operating normally," air traffic control provider AirNav said in a statement, adding that operations resumed at 2.28pm.

The reopening of the airport followed a downgrade in an aviation warning to one level below the most serious, with the arrival of more favourable winds.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo begged villagers living in a danger zone around the volcano to move to emergency centres.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) said it would resume flights, while Australia's Qantas Airways said it and its budget arm Jetstar would run 16 flights to Australia today to ferry home 3,800 stranded customers.

SIA and SilkAir were seeking approval to operate additional flights, while budget offshoot Scoot said it would cease offering land and ferry transport to the city of Surabaya, on Java island, as it resumed flights to Bali. Agung's last major eruption in 1963 killed more than 1,000 people and razed villages. - REUTERS