Jetstar cancels 9 out of 15 flights from Bali on Dec 1 as threat of volcanic ash revives

Jetstar will cancel nine of 15 planned flights out of the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, the budget airline said on Friday (Dec 1), following a forecast that volcanic ash could hit airport operations in the evening.

An erupting volcano at Mount Agung forced the airport to close from Monday through part of Wednesday, stranding thousands of travelers from Australia, China and other countries before the winds changed and flights resumed.

Jetstar and its parent, Qantas Airways Ltd, had planned up to 18 flights on Friday to ferry 4,300 passengers home to Australia, including one by a Qantas 747 jet.

But nine Jetstar flights will be canceled after “a sudden change in today’s forecast for this evening in Bali,” Jetstar said in an update on its website.

Other airlines with regular Bali flights, including Singapore Airlines Ltd, Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd and Garuda Indonesia, have not posted updates on flight plans for Friday evening on their websites.

Ash was visible to the southeast of Mount Agung, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre said, with reports indicating emissions of steam and ash.

“Volcanological sources indicate a larger eruption is still possible,” it said on its website.

An estimated 90,000 to 100,000 people live in a danger area near the volcano in the island’s north, but tens of thousands have resisted government orders to evacuate.

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.