[JAKARTA] Bali's international airport reopened after the third closure in two weeks caused flight cancellations and disrupted the plans of holidaymakers.
The airport began operating at 3.30 pm local time as the wind direction shifted to the west, carrying volcanic ash from Mount Raung away from Bali, Transport Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said by phone. PT Garuda Indonesia reinstated 14 flights that were previously canceled while Lion Group, which operates Lion Air and Wings Air, resumed operations in and out of the island, they said in separate statements.
Virgin Australia Holdings canceled all Wednesday flights to and from Bali's capital of Denpasar earlier. The closure came amid the peak holiday season for Bali and followed a six-day public holiday to celebrate Eid, when more than 200 million of Indonesia's Muslims travel home to be with their extended families.
"Passengers are more prepared and we're more coordinated, so the situation is less hectic than the first time," Ida Bagus Ketut Juliadnyana, a spokesman for PT Angkasa Pura I, which manages the airport, said by phone before it was reopened.
Thousands of tourists were stranded earlier this month as the volcanic eruption in eastern Java forced authorities to shut Bali's airport for three days through July 11. The airport was closed again for the early part of July 12.
Garuda previously said it canceled 32 flights scheduled for Wednesday afternoon on expectation the airport will be closed through 7 pm local time, in line with a notice distributed by the Transport Ministry. Lion Group earlier said it rescheduled 35 flights.
Indonesia's Transport Ministry will keep monitoring the situation, Barata said.
The Indonesian archipelago is lined with volcanoes, and eruptions have often disrupted flights. A prolonged closure could pose a significant threat to Bali's economy, given that the island's beaches, surfing, culture and nightlife make it among Asia's most popular travel destinations.