JAKARTA, Jan. 30, 2011 (AFP) – a total of 16 international flights to and from the resort island of Bali were cancelled Friday, as dangerous ash continued to belch out from an Indonesian volcano, airlines said.
Thousands of foreign tourists, mostly from Australia, remain stranded on the island after a cloud of ash from Java’s Mount Bromo drifted into airspace over Bali on Thursday.
The latest cancellations mean about 30 services have been scrapped in the past 24 hours due to volcanic ash.
Australian budget airline Jetstar said on Friday it had cancelled all seven of its return services from Australia and Singapore to Bali.
”We have to take a safety-first approach,” Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway told Australian radio. ”The complexity is that while visibility can come and go, there is volcanic ash in the vicinity of Denpasar airport.”
A spokeswoman for the company said 1,600 of its passengers had been stranded in Bali by the cancellations, the Australian Associated Press reported.
Virgin Blue, also a budget airline from Australia, said it had cancelled five morning flights to and from Bali. Almost 900 of its travellers were stuck on the island, AAP said.
Cathay Pacific also scrapped two flights.
But a spokeswoman for Bali’s Denpasar Airport, Sherly Yunita, said domestic and some international airlines were continuing to arrive and depart from the airport.
”It depends on the airline’s decision,” she said.
Singapore Airlines and China Airlines, which had cancelled some flights on Thursday, had resumed services, she added.
Mount Bromo began rumbling in November and the government had raised the eruption threat warning to the maximum red alert before lowering it last month.
The head of Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre, Surono, said Mount Bromo was ”belching ash about 1,000 metres from the crater”.
”It’s actually the strong wind that caused the ash to go in certain directions. If airlines prefer to be cautious then it’s up to them.”
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