Ternate, Malang and Surabaya airports are the three air facilities which had to close yesterday due to volcanoes’ activity. Bali and Lombok airports had to close last week due to ashes from Mount Raung, an active volcano 180 km of Surabaya in East Java.The same volcano continues to spew ashes forming clouds over the region. Surabaya had to close down most of yesterday with AirAsia and Garuda suspending all their flights. The airport is Indonesia third largest airport with a total traffic output of 14.4 million passengers in 2014 -down from 17.7 million in 2013. Near Surabaya, the smaller domestic airport of Malang was also closed to traffic.
Thousands of km away, Ternate airport in North Maluku (Moluccas Island) was also closed yesterday due to renewed activities and tremors from Mt Gamalama volcano. The largest gateway to Northern Maluku, Ternate welcomed in 2014 close to 133,000 passengers.
The closure of airports comes at the worst time as Indonesia celebrates today the end of the Ramadan (Eid-al-Fitr or Hari Raya) for all Muslims around the world with thousands of them going back home for Indonesia’s most important festivity.
Surabaya airport reopened on Friday late morning but many passengers continue to be stranded, as contradictory information arrived in the morning. AirAsia and Garuda are due to resume flights in the afternoon. The Indonesian national carrier will put larger aircraft in service in a bid to reduce the number of people waiting for their flights. Malang remains closed.
(Photo: Surabaya Airport July 16, 2015- AFP)