Mount Agung eruption: Passengers spared 18-hour journey from Bali to Singapore as airport reopens

A flight from Bali to Singapore usually takes two-and-a-half-hours, but for passengers stranded in the Indonesian resort island, making their way home will come in the form of an 18-hour trip by bus, boat and plane.

Ash spewing from Mt Agung in Bali.
Ash spewing from Mt Agung in Bali. Photo courtesy: Twitter

This is one option being offered by Singapore Airlines and Scoot, as Bali's Denpasar Airport remained closed for a second day yesterday due to ash from the eruption of the island's Mount Agung volcano.

The airport has reopened earlier than expected today, with the ash cloud from the erupting Mount Agung volcano now predicted to move further east of the airport.

Singapore Airlines has advised that it will operate two services to Denpasar that due to depart Singapore in the evening as scheduled, while two other services will be retimed.

It adds that it is seeking regulatory approval to operate additional relief flights for passengers that were affected by the cancellations on 27 and 28 November.

Other carriers are expected to resume services to Denpasar gradually, but it may take up to a week to clear the backlog of passengers created by the earlier cancellation of flights.

In a Facebook update at 12.30pm, Scoot said it has managed to charter coaches to transport its passengers overland from Bali to Surabaya - about 13 hours' drive away - where they can then take Scoot flights back to Singapore including a ferry crossing, the journey will take about 18 hours, said the low-cost carrier.

"Unless otherwise stated, coaches will depart at 10am local time," said the airline, adding that those who want to take up this option should go to Scoot's counters at Denpasar Airport by 9am.

"We seek passengers’ understanding that seats on the coaches are limited and Scoot reserves the right to prioritise passengers with needs." Scoot added it would stop selling tickets to and from Bali for the travel period up to Dec 4.

On Tuesday evening, SIA posted a similar update on its Facebook page, offering its customers an 18-hour journey from Bali and Surabaya. 

"Customers will need to be at Denpasar (Bali) Airport at 0600hrs. Due to limited seats, customers are encouraged to proceed to the airport only if they receive a confirmation email from Singapore Airlines."

SIA had said earlier that passengers can re-route their original Bali-bound flights to other Southeast Asia destinations "within the same cabin class, subject to seat availability".

The closure of Bali's international airport looks set to extend to later in the week, with Scoot and Singapore Airlines announcing flight cancellations today as well, the third day running. Indonesia's transport ministry had said earlier that the airport closure was due to end at 7am local time on Nov 29. 

Mount Agung began spewing smoke and ash last week but authorities fear a major eruption is imminent. If that happens, flight disruptions in and out of Bali could extend for some time, according to Abbas Ismail, course manager of Temasek Polytechnic's Diploma in Aviation Management and Services.

"This ash can enter the aircraft's engines, where it can become a glassy substance and stall jet engines," said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at Flightglobal.

In addition, Abbas said, the ash can cause the plane's auxiliary power unit – which powers up the jet engines – to stop working.

Amid the uncertainty, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has urged Singaporeans to postpone travel plans to Bali. Those stranded in Bali will receive consular assistance and MFA officers are currently deployed at Bali airport to help those affected.

The MFA, in a travel advisory yesterday, also urged them to wait until its airport is reopened before resuming travel there. Singaporeans in Bali are advised to continue monitoring developments closely and avoid Mount Agung and its vicinity.

Those who need consular help may contact the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta on +62 (21) 2995-0400 or +62 811-863-348 (24-hours). They may also contact the ministry's Duty Office on 6379-8800 or 6379-8855, or e-mail mfa_duty_officer@mfa.gov.sg.

Author
Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Senior Writer

Tushaar has five years experience as a journalist in founding two start-up newspapers. He worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation. He enjoys reading and writing fiction in his spare time.

 

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