Another major eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Raung volcano will prevent more flights in and out of Bali, where thousands of Australians still remain stranded.
Australian airlines this week organised extra flights in an attempt to get holidaymakers back home from the popular island.
Denpasar airport reopened intermittently, but changes in wind direction had brought ash back towards critical airspace and kept aircraft grounded.
Virgin Australia warned late on Tuesday that the latest advice from its team of meteorologists and the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) was that a major eruption of Mt Raung may affect flights on Wednesday.
The airline said in a statement that conditions around Bali’s Denpasar Airport were favourable for flying on Tuesday evening but “it is likely that conditions will deteriorate tomorrow, which could disrupt operations again”.
It said a number of flights from Australia to Denpasar on Wednesday had been delayed to enable flying conditions to be assessed in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.
“Safety remains our highest priority and we will continue to provide regular updates through our website and social media channels,” a statement from Virgin read.
On its Facebook site late on Tuesday night, Jetstar Australia posted “there’s still work to do” but it got 11 flights out of Bali back to Australia during the day, had filled its flights for Wednesday and was planning for Thursday.
“These flights are subject to favourable flying conditions continuing, so we’ll be able to plan these with more certainty following updates from the VACC throughout Wednesday.”
Qantas was planning two special relief flights to supplement additional services by its Jetstar subsidiary in an effort to get remaining travellers home.
Mt Raung erupted on July 2, emitting plumes of ash that can choke jet engines.
Denpasar airport was initially closed on Friday along with nearby regional terminals.
It reopened on Saturday allowing some Australia-bound flights to get out but the ash cloud returned on Sunday, forcing the airport to shut down again.
It opened again late on Sunday but the Australian airlines did not begin flights straight away, citing safety concerns.
– with AAP