Sunday 22nd May was a day of disruptions at Bali airport as the runaway saw six flights diverted from Juanda International Airport and called into land. Flights we diverted to Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport after disaster struck at Surabaya’s international airport in Java. Thankfully, air traffic controllers at both airports managed the situation with ease minimizing potential knock-on disruptions for international travelers.
On Sunday afternoon part of the runway at Surabaya’s Juanda Airport collapsed leaving air traffic control no option but to redirect the day’s remaining flights to Bali. Flights that had left Jakarta, East Kalimantan, and South Sulawesi all had to be redirected to Denpasar, 433km away from their intended destination. Juanda Airport is a 10-hour drive from Bali Airport or a 1-hour flight.
According to local reports disruptions at Juanda Airport started early in the afternoon as a Batik Airlines flight had to abort takeoff after the crew became aware that part of the runway’s tarmac had collapsed. It is believed that the airport maintenance staff were able to act swiftly to make repairs but not before the day’s six remaining inbound flights had to be redirected.
Passengers on the six redirected flights were not abandoned, nor did they leave their aircraft. A representative from Ngurah Rai Airport, Taufan Yudhistira released a statement to say ‘all the planes that previously landed at Ngurah Rai Airport were immediately flown back to Juanda Airport, Surabaya starting at 13.45 WITA until 15.00 WITA. All of them have resumed flights to Juanda Airport’.
Fortunately, the disruptions to Bali airport are now over and the normal flight schedule at both Bali Airport and Surabaya Airport has been resumed. Bali Airport is now the busiest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic. Airline giants like Emirates have renewed their regular flight service, including a 5-times weekly flight to Dubai.
As the visa on arrival program has been reopened for travelers from sixty countries and Indonesia has scrapped the need for the pre-arrival PCR test, Bali Airport is bracing for even more arrivals in the coming weeks. This is much-welcomed news for workers in the tourism sector who can return to regular employment for the first time in two years. Official data shows that unemployment in Bali has dropped by 0.58% seeing over 100,000 people return to the workplace.
The scrapping of the pre-arrival PCR test for fully vaccinated international arrivals to Indonesia was a huge event. Not only does this reduce the cost of travel for international visitors but could also reduce queue times at Bali Airport. Passport control officers have a little less paperwork to browse through and in theory, can process arrivals that little quicker. Arrivals must present their passport, proof of insurance, proof of onward travel, and their Covid-19 vaccine certificate.
Those who are exempt from the vaccine must present a letter from their medical doctor. Though the scrapping of the PCT test is touted to be a permanent decision, authorities in Bali and airlines are reminding travelers that it is their responsibility to find up-to-date Covid-19 related travel advice before they head to the airport.
The visa on arrival program has been resumed for travelers from sixty countries, The visa costs IDR 500,000 (USD 33) and must be paid for at the payment desk before travelers proceed to passport control. The visa on arrival is valid for 30-days and can be extended one time for the second period of 30-days.
Bali Airport is undergoing improvements to customer experience. Airport management has rolled out 5G coverage in the domestic terminals and is planning on expanding the service to include the international terminals. Despite Sunday’s small disturbances, Bali Airport’s reemergence from lockdown has been uneventful and travelers are being welcomed back with gratitude.
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