Volcanic ash over Indonesia causes hundreds of flight cancellations on Bali

Volcanic ash billows from the crater of Mount Rinjani on November 4, 2015.

Story highlights

  • Airport closures have been extended to Friday morning, authorities say
  • A different volcanic eruption caused travel chaos on Bali in July

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN)An erupting volcano in Indonesia has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in and out of the airport on the popular resort island of Bali.

Mount Rinjani, which towers out of the nearby island of Lombok, is the volcano causing the travel chaos. Its continuing eruptions have spread a cloud of volcanic ash in the direction of Bali, posing a danger for aircraft engines.
Indonesian authorities closed Bali's Denpasar Airport Tuesday evening and plan to keep it shut until at least Friday morning, said J.A. Barata, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry.
    Passengers line up to check the status of their flights at Denpasar Airport on November 4.
    By Wednesday, that had resulted in the cancellation of 692 flights, both domestic and international, leaving many travelers stuck on the island or unable to reach it.
    Two other airports in the region -- one on Lombok and the other in Banyuwangi in East Java -- have also been closed for the same period as Denpasar, Barata said.
    One of the affected airlines, Virgin Australia, warned passengers not to travel to Denpasar Airport without confirmation that they had been rebooked on another flight.

    Bali hit by ash-related chaos before

    This isn't first time that volcanic activity in the region has played havoc with vacationers' plans.
    Another volcano, Mount Raung in East Java, caused similar chaos in July. About 13 months before that, it was Mount Sangeang in the Lesser Sunda Islands that brought about a series of flight cancellations.
    Experts say volcanic ash sucked into aircraft engines can melt into a glass-like substance that can cause a loss of thrust and even engine failure.
    The travel headaches in Bali at the moment aren't on the same scale as the massive disruption to air traffic caused by an Icelandic volcano in 2010. The Eyjafjallajokull eruption forced the cancellation and diversion of thousands of flights per day at the height of the crisis, affecting millions of passengers.