The Transportation Ministry has declared the eruption of Mount Kelud in Kediri, East Java, to be a force majeure, which exempts airlines from compensating passengers due to cancelled flights.
“Considering that the volcanic activity of Mount Kelud is a force majeure, the airline companies, which cancelled flights in the volcanic ash-affected routes, are exempt from the obligation to compensate their passengers,” the ministry’s director general of air transportation, Herry Bakti, said in a written statement released on Saturday.
The decision to declare the eruption as a force majeure complied with the transportation minister’s regulation number PM 77/2011 on the responsibility of airline companies, he said.
Therefore, he added, the airlines which cancelled flights in the affected routes should inform their passengers of the cancellation.
“We ask the airline companies to make full refunds without administrative fees on air tickets of passengers who cancelled their trips on that day,” he said.
On Friday, the ministry said seven airports on the island of Java had been closed until a specified time due to the eruption of Mount Kelud on Thursday night.
“Seven airports have been temporarily closed due to Mount Kelud’s eruption,” Herry Bakti stated here on Friday.
He noted that the airports were closed, as the eruption had scattered volcanic ash in the area, which drastically reduced visibility.
The volcanic ash also endangered flights, as it could cause jet engines to cease operating while in flight, he noted.
Herry had earlier issued a “Notice to Airmen,” which resulted in the temporary closure of the airports.
The seven airports are Juanda airport in Surabaya, East Java, until 6 a.m. on February 15, Adisumarmo (Solo, Central Java) until 7.30 a.m., February 15, and Adisucipto (Yogyakarta) until 7.30 a.m., February 15.
The other closed airport are Ahmad Yani airport (Semarang, the capital of Central Java), which was closed until 6 a.m., February 15, Tunggul Wulung (Cilacap, Central Java) until 5 p.m., February 14, Abdurrahman Saleh (Malang, East Java) until 7 a.m., February 15, and Husein Sastranegara (Bandung, West Java) until 8 p.m., February 14.
Meanwhile, on Friday the total flights cancelled included 332 from Juanda, 28 from Adisumarmo, 110 from Adisucipto, 76 from Ahmad Yani, 16 from Abdurrahman Saleh, and 24 from Husein Sastranegara.
He also reported that the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta and Ngurah Rai airport in Bali remain safe and continue operating, as they have not been effected by volcanic ash.