Indonesia reopens Bali airport after two-day closure
DENPASAR, Indonesia – Bali airport reopened Thursday, November 5, an official said, after ash erupting from a nearby volcano forced Indonesian authorities to close the terminal for two days, grounding hundreds of flights.
Favorable winds blew an ash cloud from Mount Rinjani, an active volcano on nearby Lombok island, away from Ngurah Rai International Airport, clearing the skies above Bali for the first time in days.
"The airport reopened at 2:30pm (0630GMT) Bali time," airport chief official Yulfriadi Gona told AFP.
"The wind is heading to the south and southwest, which means the volcanic ash is no longer heading to Bali."
The airport has been closed since late Tuesday, and officials initially ordered it remain shut until at least Friday morning. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Tourists stranded, flights canceled)
But as conditions improved throughout Thursday the national meteorological agency ruled it safe for flights to resume earlier than expected, Gona said.
Nearly 700 flights, including 320 international ones, were cancelled between Tuesday and Thursday.
The mass cancellations spelled travel chaos for thousands of stranded passengers in Bali, including India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari who wrapped up a state visit Wednesday and was due to depart the holiday island but his flight was grounded.
The deportation of an Indian fugitive wanted in his home country for up to 20 murders has also been delayed, after the crime boss was arrested in Bali more than a week ago.
The disruption also prompted the organisers of a high-profile United Nations conference in Bali to postpone the event, which was to be attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and philanthropist Melinda Gates.
Air traffic is regularly disrupted by volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, which sits on a belt of seismic activity running around the basin of the Pacific Ocean and is home to the highest number of active volcanoes in the world, around 130. – Rappler.com