Merapi Disrupts Australian Flights

In Asia, News Headlines, Volcanoes

HUNDREDS of Qantas and Jetstar passengers are facing delays after services between Australia and Indonesia were disrupted by ash spewing from the nation’s most active volcano.

Qantas cancelled a Sydney-Jakarta return service due to the Mount Merapi volcano, which has killed 191 people since it began erupting late last month, emitting ash and heat clouds.

The conditions also prompted the carrier’s low-cost offshoot Jetstar to change its flight schedule for services to the Indonesian island of Bali, cancelling flights that arrive at or depart from the popular holiday destination at night.

About 300 passengers have been affected, with two services due to fly out of Darwin and Sydney yesterday now rescheduled to depart this morning, a Jetstar spokesman said.

Another flight, due to leave Denpasar International Airport for Perth yesterday, has been delayed by a few hours.

“So what we are doing is continuing with daylight services with a different flight path, then (with) night services, we are taking a very conservative approach, a safety-first approach,” the spokesman told AAP.

The airline was also offering customers refunds, he said.

Qantas said its estimated 400 affected passengers have been offered the next available flight, scheduled for tomorrow, while those in Jakarta may also opt for Jetstar service to Singapore today and continue on to Australia.

Both carriers said they would be monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

The volcano has shown signs of slowing but officials said its activity remains high.

Mount Merapi, which means “Mountain of Fire”, has been emitting ash and heat clouds since late October, killing people with torrents of boiling hot gas and rock and forcing hundreds of thousands to move to makeshift camps.

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