Sunday, April 18, 2010

Indonesian Travelers in Limbo as Europe Still Grounded

Indonesia and Asia are increasingly feeling the impact of the volcanic ash cloud hanging over Europe, with airlines forced to cancel dozens of European flights for a third day on Sunday and warning that the chaos could last up to a week, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

“Tourism will be affected directly because flights from and to Europe are canceled,” said Sofyan Wanandi, chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo). “Indirectly, it will disrupt business negotiations because business trips are canceled or delayed. We hope that this incident will end soon.”

Ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland has drifted southeast over Northern Europe since Thursday, caused unprecedented disruption, throwing millions of travelers into disarray and causing heavy economic losses.

In Indonesia, hundreds of passengers were stranded in Bali over the weekend after their Europe-bound flights were canceled.

Alex Pudjianto, a spokesman for state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I, which operates Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, acknowledged that many foreign tourists might be stuck in the country, but said that flights from Bali to other Asian cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok were unaffected.

KLM spokesman Raphael Liang said the carrier had canceled all flights from Denpasar and Singapore indefinitely. KLM canceled all of Sunday’s flights into and out of Amsterdam. It recommended anyone traveling from or via the city up to Tuesday to change their flight date.

Qatar Airlines has urged its passengers to stay put in Bali temporarily as for the past two days all its traffic heading to Europe was stuck in Doha, the airline’s main transit hub.

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