THE Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Transportation temporarily closed operations at Minangkabau International Airport (BIM) in West Sumatra due to the presence of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Marapi.

“The eruption of Mount Marapi is dynamic so we will continue to monitor this situation, and coordinate intensively with relevant stakeholders in terms of handling the eruption to ensure that safety, security and flight comfort aspects are met,” said Director General of Civil Aviation, M. Kristi Endah Murni in Jakarta, Friday (01/19), 2024.

Kristi said that the activity of Mount Marapi, which this Friday (19/1) again emitted volcanic ash, could be seen through the positive results in the paper test carried out at 13:00 – 14:00 WIB by the Padang Region VI Airport Authority Office. The closure of BIM operations was announced via Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Number B0115/24 NOTAMN at 07:15 UTC / 14:15 WIB until further notice.

Apart from that, based on the Volcanic Eruption Notice issued by the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG), Mount Marapi experienced an eruption with an observed ash column height of +500 m above the peak (+ 3,391 m above sea level). The ash column was observed to be gray in color with thick intensity leaning towards the southwest.

Kristi explained that her party, through the Padang Region VI Airport Authority, would continue to monitor and supervise developments in the situation in the form of field observations carried out at intervals of 30 minutes to 1 hour at several points around the airport. Minangkabau Airport had been closed and opened several times due to the impact of the eruption of Mount Marapi.

“I hope that the public, especially prospective passengers, can understand this force majeure situation. When we received information that 16 flights were potentially affected by this airport closure, we continued to update it,” she remarked.

Due to this force majeure situation, Kristi appealed to airlines to provide compensation to passengers who have purchased tickets, including the option of a full refund, reschedule or re-route to the nearest airport if seats are still available. It is hoped that this will help passengers affected by the airport closure.

Regarding handling volcanic eruptions and handling the impact of volcanic ash on aviation safety operations, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued Circular Letter number SE 15 of 2019 concerning the Implementation of Flights in Force Majeure Conditions as well as Decree of the Director General of Civil Aviation Number KP 153 of 2019 concerning Collaborative Procedures and Procedures Decision Making (CDM) Handling the Impact of Volcanic Ash on Aviation Operations through Integrated Web Based Aeronautical Information System Handling (I-WISH) so that handling force majeure of the Mount Marapi eruption refers to these two letters as implementation guidelines.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and coordinate with relevant stakeholders in handling this force majeure so that we can take the necessary steps for flight safety, security and comfort,” concluded Kristi. [antaranews]