Indonesia cancels flights, stranding hundreds in Bali

AFP, DENPASAR, Indonesia

Fri, Jan 13, 2017 - Page 6

Hundreds of tourists were yesterday stranded on the island of Bali following a decision by authorities to ax Tigerair Australia flights after the airline allegedly broke Indonesian regulations.

The budget carrier said six of its services between Australia and the Indonesian island were being axed yesterday and today a day after the disruption began with the cancellation of several flights.

About 700 passengers were yesterday affected by the cancellations, and a similar number were affected on Wednesday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported.

Tigerair said the chaos was caused by the Indonesian government’s decision to “impose new administrative requirements for the operation of its flights between Bali and Australia.”

However, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation said it made the move after administrative violations by the airline.

Tigerair should not have been selling tickets within Indonesia for its chartered flights, the ministry said, adding that only Virgin Australia, Tigerair Australia’s parent company, was authorized to sell the tickets.

“All foreign airlines must comply with our regulations,” ministry spokesman Agoes Soebagio said in a statement, adding that all Tigerair Australia flights would be canceled until requirements had been fulfilled.

Virgin Australia was sending two flights to Bali to transport affected customers, Tigerair said.

Bali, a pocket of ancient Hindu culture in Muslim-majority Indonesia, attracts millions of foreign tourists every year to its palm-fringed beaches and is a particular favorite with visitors from neighboring Australia.

However, travel disruptions are common. Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport was forced to close several times last year due to floating clouds of ash from nearby erupting volcanoes.