Longer Holiday Surprise for Cloud-Stranded Bali Visitors

The Bali Times

European holidaymakers in Bali were giving themselves on Monday a surprise extension to their tropical stay after Iceland’s vast volcanic ash cloud forced the cancellation of flights home.

KLM-Air France has suspended flights on its Bali-Amsterdam route as much of northern European airspace remains closed off due to the plume, whose particles are hazardous to airplane jet engines and may cause them to stop working. Passengers booked on flights from Bali to Europe are unable to get forward connections at regional hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong.

A British Airways jumbo jet crossing Indonesian airspace in 1982 saw all four of its engines shut down after encountering volcanic ash as it flew over Java. It managed to land in Jakarta, however, after restarting its engines at lower altitude.

Bryan Gabriel, director of sales and marketing at the InterContinental Resort Bali in Jimbaran, told The Bali Times on Monday that guests who had been due to check out and fly home to Europe decided to stay on at the five-star hotel, while inbound holidaymakers from European countries had deferred their Bali travel plans.

“As Europe is one of our biggest markets, we have experienced amendments to bookings and so far no cancellations. Guests and groups are moving their dates. We have also had a number of guests extend due to the fact that they cannot get home,” he said.

At the Ayana Resort, also in Jimbaran, traditionally strong bookings from Japan for the former Ritz-Carlton property meant there was little change.

“We have had two cancellations because (the would-be guests) can’t leave Europe,” spokesperson Marian Hinchliffe told The Bali Times, adding that the hotel would not be applying a cancellation fee.

The World Tourism Organisation, a UN body, urged the travel sector on Monday to cooperate as the unfolding crisis continues.

In a statement to The Bali Times, the Madrid-headquartered organisation said it “urges all parties, namely the travel industry [and] public and private sector, to act fairly and to put responsibility towards travelers first … in order to mitigate as much as possible the negative impact of the current situation on travelers.”

It said airlines should provide information to people holding tickets, including how long any cancellations would be in effect for, and should take care of travelers by providing them with meals and accommodation as well as offering refunds if required.

Authorities at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, meanwhile, have told The Bali Times that there are no projected disruptions to the majority of air services.

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