Jetstar and Virgin Australia are flying a backlog of passengers out of Bali today while conditions are favourable.
While Virgin had delayed flights earlier this week, both airlines have reassessed air conditions and deemed it safe to increase operations to return the thousands stranded in Bali.
The airlines have 36 flights scheduled to bring up to 4000 people back to Australia by the end of the week.
Holidaymakers have been in limbo since Saturday after Mount Raung erupted about 150 kilometres from Bali’s Denpasar airport.
“Flying conditions are forecast to remain favourable so we expect to fly 12 flights out of Bali today, which includes four additional flights,” Jetstar Australia posted on its Facebook page at midday today. “We have made significant progress in getting disrupted customers back to Australia.”
Virgin Australia said it was putting on extra flights but would monitor the situation closely. The airline urged people flying to Bali this month to consider an alternative destination.
“Given the ongoing volcanic eruption at Mt Raung, Virgin Australia has offered to waive all fare differences for guests who are booked to travel to Denpasar by 28 July 2015 and wish to switch their travel to one of 12 other island and coastal holiday destinations,” it said.
The volcano has been erupting since July 2, forcing cancellation of 80 flights in and out of Australia. The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre told media the ash had slowed its expansion and was staying close to the volcano but the volcano was unpredictable and things could change.
Some travellers trapped in Bali were wary about information supplied by airport staff, referring instead to social media for updates.
“We keep checking flightscanner and Twitter for airport updates because the airport staff aren’t saying much,” Sydney holidaymaker Robert Schell told The Newsroom.
But he said he “wouldn’t be too worried” if his flight was delayed. “It’s a lovely place to be stranded in, especially so considering the volcanic ash isn’t that apparent!”
But others were delighted to finally head home. “I just want to say a HUGE thank you to Jetstar,” Christina Pouda posted on Facebook.
“We have finally arrived back in Australia! Yesterday, we waiting since 6am at the airport till about 7pm and did not put our heads on a pillow that night until 4am the next day. We were frustrated, tired and grumpy. However, as soon as your representatives made it to the airport they showed extreme patience and extremely great customer service … we are just happy to be back in Australia!”
On Jetstars Facebook page Georgina Ann Nefiodovas posted “Thank you Jetstar! The staff with all of this at the airport in Bali look exhausted but they are still doing an incredible job trying to get everyone out.” – Ben Vilnis
Top photo of Jetstar plane landing taken from JoolsGriff’s Flickr photostream.