“The decision to close Denpasar Airport was officially transmitted to us this morning,” a representative from Garuda told passengers who were waiting at Incheon to check in for the noon flight. “Despite rumors that flights are operating normally, all flights heading to Bali today have been canceled.”
|Passengers wait at the Garuda Indonesia counter at Incheon Airport Monday, which have signs indicating that flights have been canceled. (Yonhap)|
According to an official with the Indonesian embassy in Korea, the airport was officially closed at 7 a.m. local time. The closing is effective for 24 hours.
Although the official stressed that the ash was not due to a magmatic eruption but due to water rising in the volcanic crater, news reports quoting local authorities say that Mount Agung “has entered the magmatic eruption phase.”
Korean Air, which operates a daily flight to Bali at 6 p.m., also canceled its flight, which had 223 seats booked. The returning flight from Bali scheduled for 1:25 a.m. on Tuesday, which had 114 reserved seats, is also canceled.
“We were unaware that Denpasar was closed until we got to the airport and spoke to a Garuda representative,” said Brian Kim, 35, who had planned to go to Bali on his honeymoon Monday.
Garuda is currently offering full refunds or rescheduling for passengers who were unable to go to Bali on Monday.
Korean Air said that it is monitoring the situation in Bali to decide when to resume the flights.
Bali is a popular honeymoon destination for Koreans, and Monday is the busiest day for honeymooners leaving Korea.
According to news reports coming from Bali, tens of thousands of passengers are stranded in Bali. Airlines such as Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas began advising passengers Sunday that flights had been grounded due to the activity at Mount Agung.
By Won Ho-jung (email@example.com)