All Chinese flights from Bali suspended

2017-12-05 01:59:25 GMT2017-12-05 09:59:25(Beijing Time) Sina English

China’s aviation authority has suspended all flights from the Indonesian holiday island of Bali to Chinese cities until the threat of volcanic ash clears.

Clouds of ash from Bali’s erupting Mount Agung volcano disrupted flights to and from the island’s airport last week, stranding thousands of tourists.

Flights began resuming when the airport reopened last Wednesday, after the wind changed and blew the ash away from flight paths. Individual airlines make their own decisions on flying.

Australia’s Jetstar resumed flying tourists to Bali yesterday, while Virgin Australia Holdings said it planned to do so today.

Despite the resumption of some services, China’s aviation authority was stopping any more flights after the return yesterday of the last charter flight, bringing to 15,237 the number of stranded Chinese tourists brought home, the People’s Daily newspaper said on its Twitter page.

“China’s aviation authority has suspended all flights from Bali to Chinese cities until volcanic ash threat clears,” the paper said.

China Eastern and China Southern airlines, which stopped flying tourists into Bali last week, said any resumption of flights would depend on the situation.

China Southern said that “due to volcanic activity in the area, the local airport and associated routes are not airworthy so flights on these two routes have been canceled in the near term.”

China has overtaken Australia this year as the biggest source of international visitors to Bali, representing about a quarter of the 4.9 million arrivals from January to September, according to industry statistics.

Airlines avoid flying through volcanic ash as it can damage aircraft engines, clogging fuel and cooling systems, hampering pilot visibility and even causing engine failure.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said Mount Agung was no longer spewing ash but just white smoke that reached a height of 1,000 metres early yesterday.

The volcano remains at its highest alert level but most of Bali is deemed safe for tourists.

The exclusion zone around the volcano still extends 10 kilometers from the crater in some directions. More than 55,000 people are living in shelters.

Indonesian government volcanologists say that Agung’s crater is about one-third filled by lava and there is still a high risk of more eruptions.

(Agencies)

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