The dreaded volcanic ash plume has returned to Bali

The dreaded volcanic ash plume has returned to Bali, forcing a new round of flight cancellations.

A series of flights en route from Australia to Denpasar have had to turn back, and Virgin Australia has cancelled the rest of its Bali flights tonight.

Tomorrow’s services are currently under review.

Jetstar is awaiting further advice from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre before it decides whether to operate services to Bali this evening.

Active … Mount Rinjani in 2009. Pic: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty ImagesSource:Supplied

Two flights from Melbourne and Perth were forced to return earlier, leaving Jetstar with no aircraft in Bali to fly people back.

“We’ve been advised that the current ash cloud close to Bali is of a lesser scale than we have seen recently so we are hopeful that our customers won’t be disrupted for extended periods,” a Jetstar spokeswoman said.

“Unfortunately as this volcano remains active, flying conditions around Denpasar Airport are subject to change and we regret this inconvenience for our customers.”

The volcanic ash is not as dense as earlier this month when Jetstar and Virgin Australia were unable to operate flights for 16 days.

The Australian carriers have been more cautious than other airlines, due to the longer flights they operate, and the risk of conditions changing in Denpasar mid-flight.

Mount Rinjani began erupting in late October after five years without activity.

It’s unknown how long the eruptions will continue but another volcano, Mount Raung erupted almost non-stop for two months in July and August.

Birdseye view … The ash plume from Mt Rinjani. Picture: AFP NOAA/NASA =Source:Supplied

Indonesia is home to the largest number of active volcanoes on earth with 129.

Bureau of Meteorology head of National Operations, Andrew Tupper said it was likely conditions would ease in December.

“The main thing that happens around Christmas time, is the winds tend to change as the monsoon develops, and they blow the ash away from Bali,” said Dr Tupper.

“That’s not iron clad. If the monsoon’s late it won’t happen, but the odds are in favour of less disruption from ash around Christmas.”

Despite the ongoing disruptions from volcanic ash, travel agents continue to report strong bookings for Bali for the summer holidays and the year ahead.