Volcanic eruptions and how they impact flying

When a volcano erupts, the ash cloud it produces can pose a threat to aircraft flying in the area. This is because volcanic ash is hard and abrasive, and can damage propellers and turbocompressor blades, as well as scratching cockpit windows which impairs visibility.

At Virgin Australia, the safety of our guests and crew is our number one priority, and if there is a risk to our flights of encountering volcanic ash, we need to make changes accordingly. This may impact flight scheduling which could involve flight delays and cancellations.

We understand this situation can have a signficant impact on our guests, so we wanted to provide some information about why your flight may be impacted, and what you can do if you have been affected.

We hope this helps to answer some questions about volcanic eruptions and what our team does behind-the-scenes to ensure all guests are on their way as soon as it is safe to fly.

How do you decide whether to fly or not?

Our decision on whether to fly or not is made after a thorough Risk Assessment. During a Volcanic Eruption our Operations Team receive reports from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, a specialist team based with the Bureau of Meteorology. These reports provide detailed information about a volcanic eruption and contain information from local Volcanologists, reports on the ground near the volcano, local wind and weather conditions, and extensive satellite imagery and models. 

Our Virgin Australia Volcanic Ash Management Team comprised of our In-house meteorologists, Senior Pilots, Senior Safety Officials, Flight Dispatchers and Operations Controllers, then assess the report.  As part of this process, the team will consider alternative flight paths, whether there are other options to get our guests moving again, and any restrictions that need to be considered to continue operations. At Virgin Australia safety is always our number one priority, so this will always come first. It is also important to remember that volcanoes can erupt continuously over many months, which is why sometimes flights can be impacted for a long period of time.

Why do you fly some days and not others during a volcano eruption?

The changes in weather can significantly impact the ash cloud including its direction and density. We constantly monitor the weather along with the ash cloud to determine the safest possible route to fly our aircraft. Depending on the direction of the wind, we may need to alter our flight path or make the decision to cancel a flight in the interest of safety.

Why do other airlines sometimes fly in the vicinity of an erupting volcano when others don’t?

Each airline has their own safety processes and risk assessments when it comes to determining if it is safe to fly their aircraft. The safety of our guests and crew are our utmost priority, and our Volcanic Ash Management Team constantly monitor the situation and level of ash cloud before making a decision on operating our flights.

When will I know what’s happened to my flight?

If your service has been impacted due to a volcanic eruption, we will notify you via email or text message.

If you booked via a third party please ensure they have provided Virgin Australia with your mobile number, so we can contact you in the event of any changes to your flight.

We also encourage people to check our Travel Alerts page on our website, which is continually updated with the latest information: virg.in/vatravelalerts

How will I be contacted?

If your booking includes your contact details, then we will notify you via text message and email.

If you booked via a third party please ensure they have provided Virgin Australia with your mobile number, so we can contact you in the event of any changes to your flight.

For regular updates please visit our website and social media channels which will continue to be updated as further information comes to hand.

When will my flight be rescheduled?

We will contact you once it is safe to fly and we are able to confirm your seat on the next available flight.

Why does my flight continue to be rescheduled?

Your safety is our priority and if we need to cancel your flight, we will automatically move your booking to the next available flight and send you the details.

However please note that if the volcano continues to impact our ability to fly safely in coming days, there may be subsequent flight cancellations.

Please remember to check your flight status here before heading to the airport.  

What if I want to change/cancel my flight?

If you wish to change your booking, please contact us on 13 67 89 from Australia or +61 7 3119 7175 from Bali (or 00 1803 061 2002 from a Bali fixed line with IndoSat carrier).

What if I booked through a third party or Travel Agent?

If you have booked through a third party or Travel Agent you will need to contact them directly regarding your booking.

Can I change my flight to a different time or destination?

Our Guest Contact Centre team can discuss your flight options with you over the phone.

If you wish to change your booking, please contact us on 13 67 89 from Australia or +61 7 3119 7175 from Bali (or 00 1803 061 2002 from a Bali fixed line with IndoSat carrier).

Will my travel insurance cover me?

If you have travel insurance, please check with your insurer who can provide further advice about your options.

We recommend that you keep up to date with the latest Australian Government advice for travelers in Denpasar by visiting the Smart Traveller website.

 

Share this article 
facebook Twitter Pinterest Google