Due to the imminent threat Mount Agung and the closed airport in Bali, tourists aiming to visit the destination during the winter holidays are warned that the volcano is on the edge of a powerful eruption.
As starting November 21st, steam and ash began emerging from the crater, Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority has raised the alert level to 4, the highest there is. Following the early volcanic activity, local communities have been evacuated to safe locations, while hundreds of visitors are still stranded on the island.
According to the Foreign Office, tourists should “monitor local media reports, follow the advice of the local authorities and stay outside of the exclusion zone.”
The most difficult situation is linked to the airports in the area, as Denpasar is temporary closed and Lombok flights have mostly been canceled. In order for the tourists to remain safe EU carriers are obligated to provide food and accommodation for their customers until the flights resume.
On the other hand, tourists using South East Asian and Australian airlines do not benefit these regulations, so travel insurance is the only way people can get a money refund in case of situations like this. UK travelers to Australia are also affected by the latest security measures.
Moreover, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), ash is also a danger for the airplanes:
“Volcanic ash consists mostly of sharp-edged, hard glass particles and pulverized rock. It is very abrasive and, being largely composed of siliceous materials, has a melting temperature below the operating temperature of modern turbine engines at cruise thrust. A volcanic ash cloud may be accompanied by gaseous solutions of sulphur dioxide (which when combined with water create sulphuric acid), chlorine (which when combined with water create hydrochloric acid) and other chemicals which are corrosive to the airframe and are hazardous to health. Given these facts, it is self evident that volcanic ash in the atmosphere may pose a serious hazard to aircraft in flight. Thus, aircraft should avoid volcanic ash encounters.”
Taking into account the current situation, both airlines and holiday agencies are unlikely to offer viable alternatives for the next weeks. Moreover, tour operators are not legally forced to provide refunds until further notice of the authorities.